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TOURISM:

Tourlsm is South Afrlca's fastest growing Industry and contributes about 4,9% of gross domestlc product. Total annual foreign arrivals to South Africa increased significantly between 1994 and 2001. In 2001, arrivals from outside the continent continued to grow by 2,7% desplte the global slowdown. Much of this growth is the result of marketing campaigns in the Netherlands, France, the United States (US), the Unlted Kingdom (UK) and Germany. In June 2002, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Valli Moosa, announced that foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa had grown by 76% in the flrst four months of 2002 — as compared to the same period in 2001 — to 2,1 million. The total overseas arrivals to South Africa from January to April 2002 grew by 13,4% (69 428) to 589 168 while arrivals from Africa for the same period increased to 1,4 million (up 5,3% on the same period in 2001). Tourism employs an estimated 7% of South Africa's work-force, and is regarded as potentially the largest provider of jobs and earner of foreign exchange. It is projected that in 2010 the South African tourism economy will employ more than 1,2 million people (directly and indirectly). Tourism is the fourth-largest industry in South Africa, supporting some 700 hotels, 2 800 guest-houses and bed-and-breakfast establishments, and 10 000 restaurants. There are some major strengths operating in South Africa's favour which can facilitate further tourism growth, including:

° national tourism assets of incomparable quality in certain segments

° a diversity of tourism products, especially adventure, ecotourism and cultural attractions

° exceptional value  for money  relative to key competitors, partly owing to foreign exchange rates

° positive global perceptions of peaceful political transition in South Africa. 

The fastest growing segment of tourlsm in South Africa is ecological tourism (ecotourism), which includes nature photography, bird-watching, botanical studies, snorkelling, hiking and mountaineering national and provincial parks in South Africa, as well as private game reserves, involve local communities in the conservation and management of natural resources. These communities are not only benefiting financially from ecotourism, but also becoming aware of their responsibility to the environment. The high foreign exchange value of ecotourism enables significant economic values to be assigned to ecological resources, in this way helping to promote their conservation. Community tourism is becoming increasingly popular, with tourists wanting to experience South Africa in the many rural villages and townships across the country.

More information on Tourism can be accessed by consulting   the   South   African Yearbook 2002/2003   (chapter 21 on Tourism) at :

       www.gcis.gov.za/documents/publications/yearbook

YOUR A TO Z GUIDE TO SOUTH AFRICA

 

ACCOMMODATION

There is a wide range of types of accommodation in South Africa, from five star hotels to lodges, guest houses, bed & breakfast establishments, self-catering properties and youth hostels. You can stay with  international hotel groups such as Inter-Continental, Global Resorts, Holiday Inn, Legacy Hotels & Resorts, Orient Express Hotels, Protea Hotels, Southern  Sun, Sun International, Three Cities Hotels, as well as Relais & Chateaux  and many others. The Portfolio Collection has three accommodation guides, covering bed & breakfast, country retreats, and luxury Country Places. The AA Accommodation Guides provide the most comprehensive  lists of hotels, chalets, game reserves, caravan routes, bed & breakfast and self-catering establishments.

Self-catering and backpackers accommodation is also available. Contact:
South African Tourism for a Factsheet.

AMBULANCE

In cases of emergency dial 10177

AIRLINES

See Domestic Airlines/ International Scheduled Airlines below.

BANKS

Most major commercial banks offer foreign exchange services and are found in every large town. Some are able to provide foreign exchange using your bank or credit cards. Rand traveller's cheques are now available. Visitors can also obtain cash using their bank cards from many of the automatic teller machines (ATMs) outside banks. Check the symbols  displayed on the machines with those on your card — and remember your  PIN number! Most commercial banks are open from 09.00 - 15.30, Mondays to Fridays; from 08.30-11.00 on Saturdays.

BEACHES

South Africa boasts a 3,000 km coastline, stretching from the Atlantic in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east. Along it's length is a seemingly endless range of beautiful beaches which are great for a relaxing stop-over on a tour or, with their wealth of nearby attractions, are superb venues  for a sun, sea and sand holiday. Most are ideal for families, swimming is  generally safe and hygienic. Tests have shown that the seawater off  South Africa's beaches is among the cleanest in the world. There are a host of activities to enjoy — from surfing and windsurfing to sailing and deep sea fishing.

BIRD-WATCHING

South Africa has one of the widest diversities of bird types in the world, boasting more than 870 different species. The Kruger National Park and Kalahari Gemsbok National Park are amongst the last strongholds of the large raptors, such as vultures and eagles. Reserves such as Ndumo, Mkuzi, Lake Sibaya and St. Lucia in northern KwaZulu-Natal are highly  recommended for bird enthusiasts, as they are breeding grounds for migrating flocks of pelicans and flamingos. An impressive range of birds inhabit the fynbos reserves of the Western Cape and the Langebaan Lagoon is populated in the summer by over  50,000 birds including enormous numbers of curlew and sandpipers. In the Free State, the goldfield pans and Seekoeivlei, support large bird  populations. Inland regions such as Nylsvlei and Barberspan in the Northern Province are fine locations for birdwatching. Birds peculiar to the  bushveld are found in great numbers, especially at Nylsvlei.

BORDER POSTS

Motorists who wish to travel from South Africa to neighbouring countries should contact the Department of Home Affairs website for details of the opening and closing times of the relevant border posts  www.home-affairs.pwv.gov.za

CAR HIRE

A number of international and local car hire companies offer a range of good-quality vehicles to suit all needs and budgets, like Avis Rent-a-Car,  Budget-Rent-a-Car, Cape Car Hire, Car-Tel, Felix Unite, Europcar, Hertz, Imperial, Tempest and others. A credit card is required — and drivers must be at least 23 years old.

CAVES

Of interest are the spectacular Cango Caves at Oudtshoorn, the famous archeological site at the Sterkfontein Caves near Krugersdorp, the Sudwala and Echo caves in Mpumalanga and the Wonderwerk Cave in the Northern Cape which houses fascinating San rock paintings dating back 10,000 years.

CLIMATE

South Africa has a wonderful climate with warm sunshine all the year round. Because the country lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are the reverse of those in Europe, making it an ideal destination for escaping the winter blues. For seeing the wildlife, the bright, dry days of the South African winter are best — when the more sparse vegetation makes it easier to see the animals. Cape Town and the southernmost part of Western Cape has a Mediterranean-type climate, with hot summers and warm winters, while Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal coast is sub-tropical, with plenty of sunshine year round.

CONVERSIONS - DISTANCE AND TEMPERATURES

Distances throughout South Africa are given in kilometres. One mile is equivalent to 1.62 kilometres. For a quick conversion of kilometres into miles divide by eight and multiply by five. Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius (Centigrade). Ten degrees Celsius is equivalent to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 20'C = 68'F, 30'C = 86'F.

COST OF LIVING

Your holiday spending money goes a long way in South Africa. Thanks to an extremely advantageous exchange rate costs are considerably lower than in Europe or the USA.

CREDIT CARDS

Major international credit cards such as American Express, Bank of America, Diners, MasterCard, Standard Bank Card, Visa and  their affiliates are accepted. However use may be restricted in small towns and country areas and in some retail shops. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are situated outside most banks in towns and cities and operate 24 hours a day.

CRUISES

For those who are in no hurry, the following cruise and cargo ships offer passenger accommodation on services to South Africa: Andrew Weir Shipping/RMS St. Helena, Cunard, Mediterranean Shipping, PRO Nedloyd, Pathfinder (Safmarine), Strand Travel and Voyages.

CURRENCY

The currency is the Rand, which is divided into 100 cents. The amount of cash brought in as South African currency is restricted to SAR 5,000.

CUSTOMS ALLOWANCES

400 cigarettes, 250 grams of tobacco and 50 cigars, one litre of spirit, two litres of wine, 50ml of perfume and 250ml of toilet water. Also tufts, souvenirs and all other goods to the value of R500. No person under 18 is entitled to the alcohol or tobacco allowance. Duty is levied at 20% thereafter.

DISABLED TRAVELLERS

There are facilities in South Africa for people with disabilities, although they are limited. It is best to check with hotels precisely what's available. The Association for the Physically Disabled can provide information about facilities and outdoor activities to those with disabilities, Tel: +27 (0) 11 646 8331. SAA provides passenger aid units at all major airports. Many hotels offer facilities for the disabled as do most rest camps in the Kruger National Park. The larger car hire companies can provide vehicles for hand controls. A directory of services for the visually handicapped is available from the SA National Council for the Blind (Tel: +27 (0)12 346 1190).

DIVING

There are opportunities for diving along much of South Africa's coastline, from the Cape to KwaZulu-Natal. Around Cape Town there are huge kelp forests to explore as well as sunken wrecks. Sodwana Bay, on KwaZulu-Natal's north coast, is ideal for tropical reef diving while off the province's South Coast there's the chance to go shark diving. The infrastructure for diving is well developed — so South Africa is a good place to learn to dive.

DRINKING WATER

Tap water is safe to drink.

DRIVING

Drivers licences with integral photos as well as the signature of the holder are required by law in South Africa. Driving is on the left and speed limits are in kilometres and are 120 km/h on the highways and 60 km/h in built--up areas. Cash is required to pay for fuel — credit cards are not accepted.

DUTY FREE SHOPS

Duty-free goods can be purchased at Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban International Airports.

ELECTRICITY

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug is required for razors and hairdryers and travel irons — these adapters can be purchased in South Africa.

EMERGENCIES

Dial 10111 for the police and 10177 for an ambulance.

ENTERTAIMENT

South Africa enjoys a lively nightlife, with discos and night clubs open until the early hours. Entertainment ranges from ballet and opera performances through to pop concerts. Some venues, such as Sun City in North West Province, attract world famous stars. Check the local newspaper for entertainment details. Most main centres have their own museums and art galleries. There are also craft centres showing the skills of South African artists.

FACT SHEETS

South African Tourism has produced a series of Fact Sheets on activities and special interest topics including; Accommodation, Adventure, Backpacker Holidays, Camping, Fishing, Game Reserves, Geography, Golf, Hiking, Hunting, Incentives, Restaurants, Self-Drive Day Tours, Surfing, The Classic Tour, The People of South Africa, Transport, Useful Websites and Wine Routes. For further information contact the South African Tourism websites: www.south-africa-tourism.org and www.southafrica.net

FISHING

This is one of South Africa's most popular sports. Many game reserves have dams, rivers or a stretch of coastline where fishing is enjoyed. There are about 250 species of freshwater fish in southern Africa and some 1,500 sea-water species along its coastline. A fishing licence is required. Contact the International Game Fishing Association on its website: www.fishingafrica.co.za

FLOWERS

More than 24,000 plant species are to be found in South Africa, nearly 10 percent of all the flowering species found on earth. The Garden Route along the Western and Eastern Cape is so named because of the lushness of the vegetation there. Many cities have their own botanical gardens. Some tours from overseas are based around a floral theme, visiting Namaqualand, for instance, when this semi-desert area bursts into flower in August or September depending on the amount of rainfall during June/July.

Contact the National Botanical Institute of South Africa on www.kirstenbosch.corn

FLYING TIME

The flying time to Johannesburg is only about 10 hours 30 minutes from London, 11 hours 30 minutes from Frankfurt, 12 hours 30 minutes from New York and 14 hours 20 minutes from Sydney.

GOLF

South Africa boasts a wide range of golf courses often in spectacular locations. Durban Country Club course looks out over the Indian Ocean while some of those in Cape Town have Table Mountain for a backdrop. The bunkers on the 13th hole on the course at the Lost City at Sun City are home to crocodiles, while the golf course in Skukuza (Kruger National Park) is unfenced! In November 2002, South Africa hosts the prestigious Presidents Cup and the Million Dollar Challenge at Sun City. Contact the South African Golf Association Tel: +27 (0)11 442 3723, E-mail: sagolf@global.co.za

HEALTH

No vaccination certificates are required from visitors coming from Europe, however visitors from a yellow fever zone must have a valid certificate.  Visitors to the eastern lowveld of Mpumalanga and  Province, the Kruger National Park and the game reserves in KwaZulu-Natal should take a course of anti-malaria tablets. Consult your doctor. In a malaria region, avoid wearing perfume or after-shave and wear long sleeves and long trousers at night. Some game reserves are malaria free. The bilharzia parasite is present in streams, rivers, lakes and dams in some of the northern and eastern parts of the country, so visitors should not drink from or bathe in these waters. The Eastern Cape is bilharzia free. Tap water is safe, and health regulations control street food vendors. While South Africa boasts excellent medical facilities, visitors  ensure they take out insurance to cover the cost of treatment should the need arise. Most hotels have a list of doctors, whose names   may also be found in the 'medical' section of telephone directories.

HIKING

This is a popular pastime in South Africa and there are hiking trails throughout the country, some gentle, some more demanding. A number of specialist operators have put together packages enabling the visitor to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the country on foot.

HORSE RIDING

Horse-riding trails and safaris are offered by a number of specialist operators in South Africa. From horse back, riders can discover the grandeur of the Drakensberg Mountains or explore the lovely scenery of the Winelands. Day trails and overnight trails are available — some even involving game viewing.

INFORMATION ON ARRIVAL

Tourist information offices are located at international airports and at main centres throughout South Africa.

INTERNATIONAL AIR GATEWAYS

South Africa's main airport, the Johannesburg International Airport, is 30 km from Johannesburg and 60 km from Pretoria. Airport buses to the SAA terminal run every 30 minutes and there are also services to and from Pretoria. Several hotels provide courtesy buses, taxis are plentiful and comparatively inexpensive although check the meter is running at the start of the journey. There are also international airports at Cape Town (about 2O km from the city) and Durban ~ (16 km). Buses and taxis are also available.

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

Over 50 international airlines now fly to South Africa so getting there is easy. Contact your local travel agent for details.

JET LAG

Because of the relatively small time change (see local time below) - travellers from Europe do not suffer from jet lag, despite the distances involved.

LANGUAGES

There are 11 official languages in South Africa. English is  language of administration and is widely spoken. Other languages are: Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

LOCAL TIME

GMT + two hours.

LUGGAGE

There are luggage storage facilities at railway stations and airports.

MEDICAL FACILITIES

The standard of medical care throughout South Africa is excellent, comparing favourably with that provided in Europe. Bear in mind though that all medical treatment must be paid for so take out adequate health insurance before you go.

MUSEUMS

There are about 500 museums in South Africa with various specialities such as geology, natural history, archeology, history, art and much more.

NATIONAL SYMBOLS

See more under "about south africa" - national symbols subpage.

South Africa's national flower is the protea, named after the Greek God, Proteus, who could change his shape at will. The springbok gazelle is the national animal, while the endangered blue crane is the national bird.

PASSPORTS / VISAS

See more under "consular services" - general visa requirements.

Holders of full EU passports do not currently require visas for a holiday visit. It is advisable to check with the South African Embassy, or High Commission, before departure. Passports must be valid for six months after the intended date of return from South Africa. Visitors must have a return ticket.

PHOTOGRAPHY

The sunny weather of South Africa makes it a photographer's paradise. The brilliant light gives gorgeous saturated colours and the skies are ever changing with amazing cloud formations. The sunsets, with their deep red, ochre and purple hues, are unforgettable. Add an ever-changing variety of landscapes, a wealth of wildlife and vibrant cultural ceremonies and you have a country 'that must be remembered on film. Many South African Art Galleries regularly schedule photographic exhibits while the Bensusan Museum of Photography in Museum Africa, Johannesburg, the Durban Centre for Photography, BAT Complex, Durban, the Duggan-Cronin Gallery, McGregor Museum, Kimberley and the Hugh Exton Museum of Photography, Pietersburg are dedicated to the art of the camera.

PLACE NAMES

As South Africa settles down to a peaceful democracy the  names of some places are being changed to reflect the new spirit of reconciliation. While every effort has been made to up-date these names in this publication, we cannot guarantee that all changes have been included.

POLICE

With its 130,000 well-trained officers, South African Police Service, is dedicated to the prevention of crime by high visibility policing in the main centres of tourism — with special help provided for international visitors. To find out general information contact SAPS on +27 (0)800 130800. In emergencies dial 10111.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

January 1 (New Year' s Day), March 21 (Human Rights Day), March 29 (Good Friday), April 1 (Family Day), April 27 (Freedom Day), May 1 (Workers' Day), June 16 (Youth Day), August 9 (National Woman's Day), September 24 (Heritage Day), December 16 (Day of Reconciliation), December 25 (Christmas Day), December 26 (Day of Goodwill). If any of these public holidays falls on a Sunday the public holiday falls on the following Monday.

RAIL TRAVEL

Spoornet operates a rail network connecting main centres such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Pretoria. The Main Line Passenger Services has a new African name, Shosholoza Meyl and a number of improvements have been made. A new Premier Classe service has been introduced between Pretoria and Cape Town. Central Reservations +27 (0)86 000 888 or contact the www.spoornet.co.za

RELIGIONS

Most denominations are represented. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are located in most major cities. Consult your hotel reception.

ROAD TOLLS

There are road tolls on certain main highways and N roads. Drivers should therefore have a supply of small denomination notes and coins.

SAFETY AND SECURITY

South Africa is basically a safe place for international tourists. Nevertheless you can reduce the risk of crime by taking a few  sensible precautions such as you would in any other country, or indeed in your own home town. Do not draw attention to yourself by flaunting large amounts of cash or jewellery. A camera round your neck identifies you as a tourist — carry it in  a shoulder-bag or holdall. Park in well lit areas, ensure car doors are kept locked and do not leave packages or personal items on the seat of the car, put them in the boot. Plan your route in advance, use maps and when in doubt as to the safety of specific areas or which route to take - contact the police. Lock the door securely when you are in your hotel room. Put valuables in the hotel safety deposit boxes. Do not needlessly display guest room keys in public.

SERVICE CHARGES

Waiters and taxi-drivers should recover 10% of the bill, unless a service charge is levied. Five Rand per bag is recommended for porters.

SHOPPING

Traditional South African craftwork, such as bowls, clay pots, beadwork, carvings, tapestries and paintings are good value and make interesting souvenirs. Jewellery is also worth looking out for — after all, South Africa is the home of gold and diamonds. Clothing, brightly coloured ethnic wear, safari suits for both men and women, and t-shirts with African designs provide practical reminders of a memorable holiday. Because of the advantageous exchange rate, all clothing and footwear is comparatively inexpensive. Shops open from 08.00 to 16.30 Mondays to Fridays and from 08.30 — 12.30 on Saturdays, although in the main centres, opening hours are likely to be longer. Hours may vary from province to province.

SPORTING EVENTS

South Africa is a sporting nation where excelence on the field is highy prized. There are rugby and football stadiums in all main centres and matches are well-supported by local fans. The atmosphere will easily infect visiting sports enthusiasts. Cricket  is also popular. Many South African sporting teams are keen to host matches with international rivals.

STEAM TRAINS

South Africa is one of the few remaining countries where steam locomotives are still used on a significant scale, so, not surprisingly, it is very popular with enthusiasts. They range from the luxury "Pride of Africa" of Rovos Rail to narrow gauge railways like the Midmar Steam Railway near Pietermaritzburg. Transnet/Union Limited operates "Golden Thread" steam safaris from Cape Town. For those looking for a scenic ride, the famous Outeniqua Choo Tjoe runs between George and Knysna.

TELEPHONES

Many hotels now have direct international dialing from the phone in your room or you can be connected via the switchboard. Public phones in South Africa are either coin or card operated. Only green public telephones use telephone cards. The cards come in amounts ranging from R10 to R200 and can be bought at various hotels, post offices, airports, bookshops and supermarkets. Local calls made from a 'phone box cost approximately 40 cents for three minutes. Trunk calls vary with the distance between exchanges. Mobile phones, known as cell phones in South Africa, are widely used.

TELEPHONE CODES

The international code for South Africa is 27, which should be preceded by your international prefix. When dialing from outside South Africa the '0' at the front of the local area code should be omitted, but it should be used when dialling within the country. When dialling international numbers Rom within South Africa the international dialling code should be prefixed with 09.

TOWNSHIP TOURS

Organized tours are now available to African Township, like Soweto. There`s the opportunity to discover more about urban African culture, perhaps meeting the locals in bars known as shebeens.

VAT

VAT, currently at the rate of 14%, is levied on most items and services, including hotel accomodation, goods, transport and tours. VAT can be re-claimed at the point of international departure on showing the goods. Please refer the VAT shop at the international airport.

WHALE WATCHING

South African's MTN Whale Route stretches 2,OOO km from Strandfontein on the Atlantic West Coast to Durban on the Indian Ocean. At least 37 species of whales and dolphins can be seen. The whales season runs from June to December. The resort of Hermanus, in the Western Cape, employs a Whale Crier to patrol the streets, blowing a horn to alert visitors to sightings!

WHAT TO TAKE

A camera or camcorder is essential. Batteries and film are generally available in main centres, but it is a good idea to stock up before going into more remote areas and into the game parks, although some private reserves have well-stocked shops. Before going into the game reserves take a can of insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes. Binoculars will considerably improve the game viewing, while a torch is a good idea for seeing the way around the camp after dark.

WHAT TO WEAR

In the South African summer, lightweight clothing is the norm; in the winter a jacket, jumper or coat may be needed, particularly in the evenings. While some establishments require jacket and tie, or cocktail dresses for the evening, many stipulate "smart casual" — a collared-shirt and slacks or a blouse and skirt. On the beach, topless sunbathing is becoming more accepted. At game reserves, neutral colours, such as browns, beiges and khakis are preferred on game drives. Bright colours or white may disturb the animals. Pack a sweater, it can be chilly in the early morning and after dusk. Wear a hat to avoid sun-stroke and don't forget swimsuits for sitting round the pool during the day. Take sensible shoes — there may be the opportunity to go on a walking safari.

WILDLIFE

There are game parks and reserves throughout South Africa where wildlife can be seen in its natural habitat. Best time for game viewing is during the drier period from April to September, when the vegetation is more sparse and the game congregates at the waterholes. Conducted game trails are offered by most parks. Key contacts: 

National Parks Board, consumer bookings,Tel: +27-(0)12 343 1991, Fax: +27-(0) 343 0905; 

trade booking, Tel: +27-(0)12 426 5025, Fax: +27-(0)12 343 2006. 

E-mail: traveltrade@parks-sa.co.za

KNZ Wildlife, consumer bookings, Tel: +27-(0)33 845 1000, Fax: +27-(0)33 845 1001.  

E-mail: bookings@knzwildlife.com 

Trade bookings, Tel: +27-(0) 33 845 1058, Fax: +27-(0)27 33 845 1004, 

E-mail: tradesk@knzwildlife.com

YACHTING

South Africa`s coastline and its many lakes created by dams make it a favourite destination for yachtsmen and women. The Cape to Rio Yacht race takes place every third year, the next starts from Cape Town on January 11, 2003.

 

 

 

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