April 07, 2019
THERE was a time when South Africa was mainly promoted as a safari destination – and of course it is still globally renowned for our wonderful wildlife, beaches and adventure tourism pickings.
But now, more than ever, the country it is becoming recognised for its unique culture and heritage offerings, just like other world-famous destinations which trace the history, the art, the architecture and the people of a country.
In recent times an innovative shift in the concept of tourism has taken place, namely, the increased emphasis on “cultural tourism”. Educational tours, pilgrimages, performing arts, festivals, visits to heritage sites and monuments are key elements of this fastest-growing sector of tourism.
The UN World Tourism Organisation says that cultural tourism accounts for 40% of international tourism. That’s a big slice of the economic pie.
Once considered niche tourism, culture and heritage are now very much crucial parts of mainstream memento.
Let’s not forget the rock art – some of the oldest in the world – the museums, the historic battlefield route and our world heritage sites.
There is also the beautiful Zulu beadwork, which are permanent reminders of unforgettable holidays, while also helping put food on the table of the talented local craftspeople. Don’t forget the cultural and traditional cuisine that the visitors get to sample during their stay, including the famous Durban bunny chow and shisanyama.
More and more visitors are heading out to the townships to sample the eateries that are growing in reputation, adding to the cultural melting pot that makes up the South African tourism industry.
With no more boundaries, cultural tourism is creating opportunities for people of all cultures and races to learn more about one another, widening their horizon in the process.