Africa eyed as vacation spot by more Chinese

2013-03-29 02:06:42 GMT2013-03-29 10:06:42(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, March 29 (Xinhua) -- African countries like Kenya, South Africa and Seychelles are becoming more popular among Chinese tourists.

China has become South Africa's fourth-largest tourist source market, according to the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

From January to September 2012, the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Africa grew 63.5 percent year on year to 96,747, according to data from the South African government.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa's minister of tourism, said both countries have seen bilateral relations grow since South Africa joined BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

"We signed agreements with seven Chinese enterprises in 2012 in order to promote South Africa as an attractive and convenient destination for Chinese tourists," van Schalkwyk said during his trip to Beijing at the beginning of this year.

South Africa set up visa application centers in Beijing and Shanghai in 2011, smoothing preparations for Chinese who wish to visit South Africa. South African Airways started direct routes between Johannesburg and Beijing in January 2012.

Zhang Lijun, president of China Youth Travel Service (CYTS), said South Africa is a core target market for the company, which now offers related travel packages to South Africa, Dubai, Egypt, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The company's gross revenues derived from Chinese tourists visiting Africa have amounted to more than 100 million yuan since 2011.

Deng Junnan, chief inspector for the Middle East and Africa at China International Travel Service (CITS), said Egypt, Kenya and South Africa are the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists.

Deng said the number of Chinese tourists visiting Africa is likely to surpass the number visiting Australia, following Europe, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and the U.S.

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