Windfall for Southern Africa as China Golden Week nears

Business Reporter

Southern Africa’s tourism players are primed to strike gold during the Chinese Golden Week holiday that runs from October 1 to October 8 as up to 6 million Chinese tourists are expected to travel abroad during this period. 

According to the China National Tourism Administration, $99, 6 billion (482,2 billion yuan) was generated during the Chinese Golden Week in 2016 as about 593 million tourists travelled during the holiday which celebrates the Oriental State’s National Day.

This year, the Chinese Golden Week is expected to see revenues surpassing the $100 billion mark with foreign tourists expected to top 6 million.

With majestic tourist sites, Southern Africa is firmly placed to boost its tourism inflows from cashed-up Chinese tourists during the holiday.

Speaking to The Southern Times in Harare, Safari Operators Association Zimbabwe (SOAZ) president Mr Emmanuel Fundira said the tourism industry is anticipating a fillip from the Golden Week.

“It’s a period we look forward to with great anticipation. The Chinese love to travel as groups during these holidays and such numbers mean good business for us,” he said.

Fundira said SOAZ recently sent a delegation to China to lure tourists from the world’s largest outbound tourism market.

“There is a team of operators from our association that are in China as we speak. We are obviously targeting the Golden Week because it is a significant period on our calendar but we are also hoping to strike long term synergies to boost our sector.”

He said Chinese tourists are mainly interested in adventure and photographic related tourism, a unit which Southern Africa is richly endowed with.

“We have done our research on some of their main interests and we gathered that the Chinese always love adventure and the photographic related nature of tourism. This is an area which is different from the consumptive tourism such as trophy hunting, so we are also lining our products to satisfy such markets. This is also advantageous to us because it is in line with the global drive to make the world green,” he said.

Fundira said while Zimbabwe is set to get its share of the cake, South Africa is best placed to reap the largest rewards from Chinese tourists during the Golden Week.

He said SOAZ will feed-off from South Africa by facilitating core-packages for visitors.

“South Africa has got a massive advantage over other countries in the region, so they are bound to be the largest beneficiaries from the Golden Week.

“However, as a neighbour to South Africa, we will also take the opportunity to capitalise on our neighbours benefits.

“We always encourage tourists who come to South Africa for one week for instance, to spend the other week in Zimbabwe through our core-package that work for both our countries,” he said.

According to Fundira, Zimbabwe’s Achilles heel in failing to reap maximum rewards from Chinese tourists is lack of direct flights from China into the country.

“Our biggest weakness is lack of that direct flight from China to Zimbabwe. Such an arrangement can led to increased tourist inflows. It is something that we will continue to advocate for and hopefully, we will be able to have our local airliner, Air Zimbabwe flying directly to Beijing or other places in China,” he said.

Addressing journalists at the Renowned Journalists from Africa Seminar in Beijing recently, former Chinese ambassador to Namibia Ren Xiaoping said the Chinese give priority to traveling during the Golden Week in October as families take trips within and outside China.

She said out of the Chinese population of about 1, 4 billion, about 900 million travel domestically and internationally as virtually all Chinese tourist destinations are turned into seas of people as they celebrate their national day.

In a recent report, Shanghai-based Ctrip.com International travel agency, predicted that 650 million Chinese will travel during the eight-day Golden Week holiday from Oct 1 to 8.

China has become the world’s largest outbound tourism market and the world’s fourth largest tourist destination, according to China National Tourism Administration.

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