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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist


Chinese tourists return: SA welcomes first group with song and dance

Chinese tourists return to South Africa as Covid-19 restrictions ease.


Tourists from China are venturing out into the world again since Covid-19 restrictions have eased considerably.

A group of tourists arrived in South Africa on Wednesday and were welcomed with song and dance. And this is just the start.

Post-Covid travel

The first group of tourists to depart from China left from Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province for a 10-day trip to Iran.

The GZL International Travel Service confirmed it had scheduled five additional tourist trips headed to Iran in April.

Meanwhile, GZL also made all the arrangements for the group of tourists who arrived in South Africa today. Other travel groups are heading to Fiji and Hong Kong as well.

Tourists from China arrive in SA

A team from SA Tourism met the tourists who arrived on Air China CCA867 at OR Tambo Airport.

They described it as a “significant milestone since this is the first flight of group tours since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020”.

SA tourism also said China is an important source market for South Africa since we receive nearly 100 000 visitors, and (literally) welcomed the tourists with song and dance.

First group of post-Covid tourists welcomed in South Africa
Photo: SA Tourism

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“This comes at an opportune time as South Africa will host the BRICS Summit later in August this year.”

SA Tourism COO Sonto Ndlovu was part of the delegation that welcomed the tourists.

Boost for SA economy

Ndlovu said the “impact of this all-important flight to the SA economy will be significant and for this reason SA Tourism will continue working with all partners to make sure we grow this market.”

SA tourism's Sonto Ndlovu welcoming Chinese tourists
SA Tourism COO Sonto Ndlovu welcomed tourists at OR Tambo Intl Airport on Wednesday, 29 March 2023. Photo: SA Tourism.

South Africa’s tourism standing is definitely on the road to recovery. As of February 2023, our country’s ports saw a total of 2 106 923 travellers crossing our borders.

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Influx of tourists to SA

Of these, 551 698 were South African residents while 1 555 225 were foreign travellers.

According to Stats SA’s Tourism and Migration report, only 632 tourists arrived from China in 2022, and this figure increased to 2 107 as of February 2023, translating into an increase of 234%.

Out of the 2 107 travellers, 291 came for work purposes, 1 796 came for a vacation and 20 visited South Africa to study.

South Africa’s biggest influx of travellers as of February, however, came from the SADC region.

In 2022, the number of travellers from SADC countries numbered 209 412. This however increased to 408 631 as of February 2023.