SOUTH Africa is looking to build tourism investment relationships with the Middle East, the country’s deputy director general for tourism, Patrick Matlou, told TTN at the sidelines of the recent Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Washington DC.
“We have set up an office, South Africa House in Dubai, to help find ways to act as a bridge between investors from the Middle East for South Africa and vice versa,” he says. The move has been prompted by the investment of companies such as Kuwait’s International Finance Company (IFC), which has invested in the Zimbabli Lodge.
The country is also making a marketing effort to attract Middle Eastern tourists, with a publicity campaign, holiday package deals with operators such as Emirates and Etihad, and finalizing airline codeshare deals. “We’ve had promotions with Etihad in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and the intention is to do road shows into different Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait.”
The country can learn a lot from the region, Matlou adds. “Diversity is a strong point in Africa, like the Middle East, but we also think that we can learn from the Middle East in organizing events, as we ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” he says. “The other area we are looking at is training. We think that with airlines flying down there we can look at internships from the government’s side. We are negotiating internships for about 100 women getting experience working in the Middle East, so we think that it’s give and take.” Other possible areas of collaboration are conservation and eco-tourism, he says.
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