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South African hoteliers work hard to woo more Chinese visitors
   2017-02-21 20:30:40    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Zhang Shuai

The Cape of Good Hope in South Afica. [File photo: baidu.com]

By Andrew Ngozo for gmmg.com

In 2016, South Africa¡¯s tourism ministry launched a public-private partnership to train staff from hotels showing a high proportion of Chinese guests.

The trainees received tuition in Mandarin and Chinese cultural norms, followed by a three-week immersion and further training in China.

This effort seems to be reaping the desired results as the country recorded a high number of Chinese visitors in December last year as revealed by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

According to Stats SA, the large number of Chinese travellers into South Africa can be partly attributed to two main factors. ¡°The relaxation of stringent visa requirements allowed many Chinese tourists to make their way into South Africa.

The other main factor is the fact that many South Africa hotel groups have taken heed of the Department of Tourism¡¯s call to teach some of their frontline staff Mandarin in order to bridge the language divide between the Africans and Chinese in order to make the latter¡¯s stay in South Africa as pleasant as possible,¡± stated Dr Pali Lehohla, the Statistician General at Stats SA.

¡°Frontline staff that has gone through the training are able to assist Mandarin speakers to make arrangements for travel, and to provide information about sights to visit, transport and restaurants,¡± stated Nicholas Barenblatt, group marketing manager for the pan-African Protea Hotels by Marriott chain.

Hotel groups are also working to improve the Chinese guest experience, from offering congee on the breakfast buffet to providing kettles and jasmine tea in rooms.

Hilton¡¯s ¡®Huanying¡¯ programme, which offers dedicated Mandarin television channels and interpretation services, is offered at Conrad Cairo, Hilton Addis Ababa and Hilton Sandton, in Johannesburg. Selected Starwood hotels in Africa also provide Mandarin-speaking hotel staff.

Although much has been done to allay visa troubles and safety fears, South Africa has a long way to go when competing against other destinations for the attention of the Chinese market.

¡°The Chinese are hungry for new destinations,¡± said Hilary Jones of Create Consulting. ¡°Ultimately, money talks, and South African destinations are, indeed, serious in committing marketing budgets to attract Chinese tourists.¡±

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