AUGUST in Italy is the height of the tourist season. Visiting the country last week, I was struck by the sheer volume of people thronging the historical attractions, spending money on food, drink, services, hotels, clothes and trinkets, writes DIANNA GAMES.
Airports and stations were at bursting point as visitors bustled from one popular tourist destination to another. These are volumes SA has probably come close to just once — during the 2010 Fifa World Cup — and yet Italy gets them every year, as do many other cities and attractions across the world that maximise their advantages.
Tourism is an obvious growth driver and is "prioritised" by Africa’s policy makers, yet many countries on the continent barely have any tourists, despite having extraordinary natural and historic attractions. SA is probably the leading tourist destination in Africa, followed by the Indian Ocean islands, Namibia, Kenya and a few others.
A few countries with limited infrastructure but great beaches, for example, register visitor statistics thanks to "accidental" tourists such as aid workers, nongovernmental agency staff, conference delegates and foreign workers on company contracts. But planeloads and trainloads of international holiday-makers on the scale that you see in Venice and Florence are rare.
- Published in Business Day SA, 17 August 2015