Recent statistics show that Sun International is one of the most popular gambling destinations among Chinese travelers in the world. South Africa is becoming more and more attractive to Chinese tourists, with their country considered “the number one source market for the world”, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization secretary general, Taleb Rifai.
In 2013, China moved from South Africa’s ninth largest tourist market to fourth place. SA Tourism said that there was a staggering 30% year on year increase in Chinese visitors, and the majority of them consider Sun City a must-see on their itinerary.
Because of the fact that most Chinese workers have very little paid vacation days each year, they will spend an average of six to seven days when visiting South Africa. These days are usually divided among Pretoria to view the important monuments, a day in Johannesburg and another in Sun City, enjoying the gambling options offered by this mega-casino resort. The rest of their stay is spent in Cape Town, although those with extra days sometimes travel up to Victoria Falls or combine their visit with a stopover in Namibia.
SA Tourism’s regional manager for Asia Pacific, Bradley Bouwer, said that Sun City is a particularly popular destination due to the hotel’s “glitz and glamour”. Recognizing this attraction to the features offered by Sun City, SA Tourism is trying to attract the top-end Chinese traveler.
The CEO of Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, David Frost believes that while the low-value Chinese tourist market is important and has its place in the local market, “what would be far more interesting is to get the millionaires, the top echelon of that market, because that’s where we have seen a lot of growth in the Indian market.”
South African operators use different marketing strategies to attract international visitors to the country’s casinos, other places of entertainment and natural wonders. Airlines are raising the number of direct flights from international destinations, while the tourism board is trying to negate current perceptions that South Africa is not a safe place to visit.
“Chinese people really believe SA is not safe,” noted Michael Jones, co-founder of AfricaCreate which promotes African operators to the Asian market. “If we could shake off that image, the numbers could triple overnight.”