By  Linda Ensor, Herald Live, 2017-06-26

April 18, 2015. Mozambique national Emmanuel Sithole is attacked by men in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. He later died from his wounds. Picture: JAMES OATWAY Sunday Times.

South Africans are regarded as unfriendly and unwelcoming to Africans from the rest of the continent‚ Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa says.

This was the key reason why the compound annual growth rate of African tourist arrivals reached only 1.5% between 2014 and 2016‚ while that of total arrivals to the country was 2.6% for the same period.

“Visa processes‚ capacity issues as well as the attacks on foreigner nationals in SA negatively impacted the positive image of SA‚” the minister said in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

Nigerians and Australians in particular do not have a very positive image of SA as a tourist destination.

Among SA Tourism’s core investment markets in terms of advertising‚ Nigeria had a 36% brand positivity rating and Australia 25%.

“Positivity towards SA ranked low amongst Nigerians because they perceive South Africans as not having a welcoming reputation to West Africans. Challenges with visa processing as well as attacks on foreign nationals negatively impacted on the positive image of South Africa‚” Xasa said in reply to another question.

The questions were asked by DA MPs Johanna Terblanche and Greg Krumbock.

Regarding Australians’ negative perceptions of SA‚ Xasa said the concerns about safety and security and “negative sentiments by expatriates” were the reasons for this.

She said SA Tourism‚ in collaboration with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation and BrandSA‚ would engage with the expatriate community “with the objective of changing their negative perceptions about SA‚ generating positive conversation and reducing the spread of negative sentiment”.

SA Tourism plans to launch a new marketing campaign in all international markets in mid-July.

The minister was also asked about the reasons for the 9% increase in tourist arrivals from the US between 2015 and 2016‚ to which she replied that this was due to collaborative efforts between SA Tourism‚ the trade and other SA Inc partners such as Brand SA and South African Airways (SAA).

“The improved perceptions of safety vis-à-vis the world competitive environment and the favourable dollar/rand exchange rate in 2015-16 encouraged many American travellers to consider SA a value-for-money travel destination‚” the minister said.

SA Tourism partnered with the tourism trade to offer travel packages that were between $1‚999 and under $3‚000‚ including flights.

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