Tourism

Tourism

In the mid-1990s, control of the tourism industry was transferred from the Department of Environmental Affairs to the Department of Industry and Trade, partly to give a higher priority to tourist-industry development concerns. Through the new Department of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, the government operates National Tourist Bureaus throughout the country as well as the South African Tourism Board (Satour). Satour, established in 1983 to promote tourism from abroad, has been recognized internationally for its high-quality services.

Among South Africa's many tourist attractions are sixteen national parks and numerous provincial and local game parks, nature reserves, and wilderness areas. The National Parks Board employs more than 4,000 South Africans. Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Northern provinces is one of the most popular with visitors and is home to more than 140 species of mammals and 450 species of birds. The rare mountain zebra, which is unique to South Africa, is protected in the Mountain Zebra National Park in the Eastern Cape. The Augrabies Falls National Park, site of the fifty-six-meter- high Augrabies Falls on the Orange River near Upington, preserves plants and animals that have adapted to semi-desert conditions. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, in the Northern Cape bordering Namibia and Botswana, is known for its free-roaming gemsbok and springbok. In addition to game parks, nature reserves, and big-game hunting between May and July, the wine region of the Western Cape is a consistent tourist attraction.

South African tourism figures have risen since the late 1980s and exceeded 3.8 million in 1994 (see table 15, Appendix). More than half of the tourists in South Africa are from other African countries; most of the remainder are from the United Kingdom or Germany. South Africa is a member of the World Tourism Organization and a participant in the Africa Travel Association, which promotes tourist attractions in Africa to the North American travel industry.

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