The South African story, the country’s breathtaking beauty, friendly people and impressive wildlife continue to charm people around the globe. The popular media network Where Are You Now (WAYN) recently hosted a contest to find the world’s dream destination. Among the top seven destinations were attractive competitors: Fiji, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Dubai and South Africa. The network’s members, hailing from popular cities to unknown suburbs, casted their votes in search of paradise. The world’s dream destination? South Africa.
The media network’s dream destination search correlates well with local statistics. Looking at the past decade, it is nothing short of astonishing to hear the increases in country’s popularity among travelers. Since 1993, the number of travelers visiting the country grew by a striking 300%. Last month, it was announced that the number of international visitors to South Africa exceeds global travel trends. The number of travelers to South Africa increased by 10.2% over the past year, which is head and shoulders above the UN World Tourism Organization’s statistics of an average tourism growth rate of 4%.
So what are the travelers hoping to find in South Africa, I hear you ask. The country’s top attractions are as colorful and diverse as the country itself. From the roaring wildlife of the Kruger National Park, the world class city of Cape Town with landmark Table Mountain, Durban with its color, flair and surf culture, Johannesburg, the pulsing City of Gold, the western and eastern coastline beaches, tranquility of the Garden Route, the classic and gracious Winelands, the Kalahari and Namaqualand open spaces and last but not least, the dramatic Drakensberge. And do not forget the sunshine! Most cities around the country bask in sunshine for around 70% of daylight hours; no wonder 9.2 million international travelers flocked to the country in 2012. And according to the country’s statistics, in 2013 even more travelers will make their way over oceans, mountains and roads to enjoy some of South Africa’s splendor.
To add to the country’s favor, a number of South African hotels and destinations featured under Travel & Leisure’s latest “World Best Awards.” Here’s the deal: three Cape Town hotels grabbed top places for the “World’s Best Service.” These three hotels are in first place, the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, second place, the Cape Grace Hotel and in fourth place the One & Only. The fourth place was shared with Johannesburg’s Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas and Spa. For the wildlife enthusiast, two local game parks were announced under the World’s Best Resort & Lodges category. The popular Singita Kruger National Park was awarded second place and the Singita Sabie Sand in fifth place.
As a country of immense biodiversity and where emphasis is place on environmental protection, eco-tourism is widely offered in South Africa and travelers are encouraged to be part of this sustainability movement. Industry leaders tell that separating travelers and the country’s natural environment is in anyway literally impossible – the majority of travelers visit South Africa for this specific reason – to experience unspoilt African nature. For this reason, South Africa is fast developing as a world eco-destination. Nature and its resources are respected, communities and cultures valued and supported in responsible and sustainable development while offering the opportunity to share and create awareness amongst international visitors.
And if all of the above is not yet convincing enough to plan your trip to the southern tip of the African continent, there is one last piece of information to win you over: the City of Cape Town ranks at 16th place in TripAdvisor’s Top 25 World Destinations for 2013. Be sure to be part of the country’s success story and place South Africa on top of your travel destination list!