March 5, 2024

South Africa: Tapping into new sustainable experiences

At a press conference hosted by South Africa Tourism during the first day of ITB Berlin, CEO Nombulelo Guliwe, and Kaula Nyilenda, Managing Executive of Tourism Development & Marketing at South African National Parks (SANParks), presented the destination’s efforts to capitalise on new offerings while maintaining a focus on responsible tourism.

South Africa continues to out-do the performance of previous years, with 2023 presenting growth of more than 48% with respect to 2022, and Europe standing out as a significant source market with more than 1.2 million visitors. Ms Guliwe emphasised that many untapped opportunities remain.

Adapting to new profiles

According to Ms Guliwe, the profile of travellers heading to South Africa is changing, with the interest in authentic and sustainable experiences on the rise. “We’ve seen an increase in consumers prioritising sustainable tourism experiences and as a responsible destination we have to respond to that,” she said.

Addressing this tendency and aligned with the destination’s commitment to developing responsible tourism, Ms Guliwe outlined the initiatives South African Tourism has piloted, such as its green tourism programme and its community tourism incentives. “We are on the ground partnering to make sure that we keep up with our consumers’ ever-shifting profile by providing new things to experience in South Africa,” she asserted.

Ms Guliwe also stressed the importance of bringing new and lesser-known experiences to the fore because of South Africa’s high rate of returning visitors. “It’s important that we are able to show diversity and something new,” she said.

Cultural Preservation

For Ms Guliwe, cultural preservation, with South Africa’s rich cultural heritage, diverse ethnic fabric and in light of the fact that the country is celebrating 30 years of democracy, is a key component of South African Tourism’s efforts. “We’ve got an enhanced responsibility to preserve and promote that,” she maintained, something the organism does by incentivising cultural tourism experiences.

Township and rural tourism has become a centrepiece to the destination’s tourism strategy. Aligned with the UN Tourism programme Tourism Connects to Europe that connects more than 200 destinations worldwide, this type of tourism is set to catalyse growth, and enable villages to exchange experiences, as well as knowledge, the CEO maintained.

South Africa Tourism works closely with partners such as the South African Township and Village Tourism Association (SATVTA), which aims to bring 1,000 new tourism products from the townships and villages across the country’s nine provinces between this year and next. “There are many untapped experiences in the cultural tourism space in South Africa that we want to bring to the world,” Ms Guliwe affirmed.


As the Managing Executive of SANParks pointed out, the nation’s national parks form a significant part of its value proposition. With 21 parks, including three UNESCO World Heritage sites, a large part of SANParks’ mandate is to maintain South Africa’s biodiversity at well-known sites such as Table Mountain and Kruger National Park, and lesser-known ones like Mapu-Ube National Park, as well as its 10 protected marine sites.

In addition to conservation, SanParks is also focused on developing the communities around the parks, partnering with the private sector through Private-Public Partnerships (PPPs) to create jobs, and, as Ms Nyilenda put it, “to make sure that we have inclusive growth in South Africa and this also gives diversity to our products.” A number of adventure options have arisen from these partnerships, including Segways, kayaking, and the famous cable car in Table Mountain.

Hall 20 / Stand 201