S. Africa's interest growing in attracting Korean tourists
Posted : 2013-06-30 17:00
Updated : 2013-06-30 17:00
Tokozile Xasa Deputy Minister of Tourism
By Kim Se-jeong
An annual workshop on South African tourism in Seoul was a reflection of growing interest from South Africa in attracting tourists from Korea. And this year was the biggest in its scale.
During one-day workshop held at Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul on June 24, 21 South African tourism operators participated looking for prospective business partners.
The workshop was organized by the South African Tourism Ministry together with the South African Embassy in Seoul.
Tokozile Xasa, the deputy minister of tourism, who flew to open the workshop said, "This is one unique platform that enables the South African trade to showcase their latest products, services, and new offerings to Asian buyers. It facilitates communication and cooperation, and offers great business opportunities between our trade and their counterparts."
According to the South African Tourism, the number of tourists from Korea last year was 19,300, an 8.3 percent rise from the previous year, which keeps South Africa's hopes very high for future expansion.
"This is a big increase," Xasa said.
Shin Nan-ju, owner of African Dream Travel based in Cape Town, said the growing trend had to face a slump right after the World Cup in 2010 which was largely attributed to security.
"When the SBS crew got their equipment stolen during the World Cup, of course, they had nothing else to cover. And that hit the number hard," Nam said.
Korea is not an easy market to compete for the African country, with the given stigma on security.
However, now, the tourist traffic from Korea to South Africa and to Africa in general is on the rise, Nam said.
New flight routes to Africa are a contributing factor. The Korean Air flies to Nairobi, Kenya. So does the Ethiopian Airlines connecting Addis Ababa and Incheon.
No direct flight connects Korea and South Africa. Popular routes are through Beijing, Singapore or Hong Kong.
The participating tour operators were Durban Tourism, Private Safaris, African Dream Travel and Camp Jabulani.
Seoul was one of the three-leg trips for the South African delegation. They came from China where it had the same workshop in Beijing, Shanghia and Guangzhou, and left for Osaka, Japan.
Lente Roode plays with Jabulani, an abandoned elephant that she's been taking care of for years. Her story was made into a movie in South Africa. / Courtesy of Lente Roode
Roode's life-long passion for animals
Lente Roode is more than an ordinary luxurious vacation resort owner.
Roode's Camp Jabulani is an elephant-back safari place with high-end accommodations, open-air spa, a private pool and a wooden-deck overlooking the dry riverbed. It costs $1,000 per night per person. Customers get an exclusive experience by wandering around 16,000 hectare private reserve.
Roode was one of the 21 South African tourism operators who came to Seoul last week for a workshop.
The camp is located in Hoedsprui, northeast of South Africa, five hours drive from Johannesburg.
The revenue isn't to feed Roode and her family but protect the endangered species of animals that are sent for treatment and protection.
"I've spent my whole life with animals.
That's where my heart is," Roode said last week in Seoul.
The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center, which opened in 1990 has 43 cheetahs. They are only one of 16 different species.
Although she is quite affluent, her day-to-day operation of the center is in huge demand of funds.
The camp is one important source of funds. She and her family — her daughter Adine manages the center — organize fund-raising activities in and out of South Africa. Roode said she can't forget a fundraising event in Savanna, Ga in the U.S. where she received a $50,000 check.
Her life-long passion for abandoned animals began with one cheetah that arrived at home at the age of five. She grew up with the cheetah.
The center was erected after he husband purchased 30 abandoned cheetahs for her to take care of.
Jabulani is a name of one of her elephants.
A baby elephant, Jabulani was sick and abandoned by her mother.
After several months of treatment at the center, Roode took the elephant out to the wild, but she couldn't adjust to the wild.
Now, Roode's reserve is home for Jabulani, along with 13 other elephants who were left vulnerable and taken to her center.
Her property and the endangered animal center have become a treasure for the community. The animal care is done in collaboration with experts from a local university. The experts offer help in treating animals and running head counts for animals in the reserve.
Roode's story was turned into a movie, and she was given an award for her work.
In her Seoul trip, she and her daughter Adine brought a scrapbook of the center's operation.
"I'd like people in Korea to know about Camp Jabulani and to come to stay with us."