FILE PHOTO: Foreign nationals listen to President Jacob Zuma at a camp in Chatsworth, south of Durban

FILE PHOTO: Foreign nationals listen to President Jacob Zuma at a camp in Chatsworth, south of Durban

Mr Hloni Pitso, Regional Manager for West Africa, South African Tourism, has said that the country recorded 84,000 arrivals from Nigeria as at the end of 2014.

Pitso told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday that arrivals from Nigeria had doubled since 2010 when it recorded about 45,000 arrivals from the country.

He said South Africa had targeted and identified 40 markets globally, including Nigeria to enable it promote and increase arrival from those specific countries.

According to him, the first office that South Africa Tourism launched outside the country was in Lagos with huge investment because of the potential it realised in the country.

“We have been monitoring the market and we have been working in the market based in South Africa.

“In 2010 up until 2014, the arrival really doubled and in 2010, we saw about 45,000 arrivals annually from Nigeria and by the end of 2014, we are seeing 84,000.

“So, that tells you that this is a good market to come and explore and share what we have to offer from a tourism perspective.

Pitso said the organisation was in partnership with the National Tour Operators Association of Nigeria and the National Travel Agents Association of Nigeria to embark on projects and share ideas.

One of the areas of partnership, according to him, is training for Nigerian travel agents to enable them to understand the products that South Africa Tourism offers and sell it correctly to the Nigerian consumers.

“We embark of training such as NDABA which is the third largest story we share in the world and the biggest in Africa where we invite our stakeholders as well as our trade partners.

“We host them in South Africa to attend the event where they have further business opportunities to form relationships and to forge existing one with the global tourism industry as a whole.

“We also conduct few annual road shows where we bring South African buyers into the market to meet the Nigerian travel agents once again in making sure that those business relationships exist between our two nations.”

Pitso said that tourism was the second employing sector contributing about 9 per cent to 10 per cent to the South African Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that Nigeria had the potential to do better.

He said if that potential was used correctly as a sector in Nigeria, the country could easily benefit, adding that the number of expatriates living in Lagos alone was an advantage.

According to him, whenever they have their families and friends who will want to come and visit them, they will look at another destination by either taking them to Accra or take them to Gambia.

“But for some reasons they are not yet seeing Nigeria as a tourism destination.

“This is a development that Nigeria will have to embark on to make sure that it develops its tourism offering so that it can attract visitors.

“So, there is a missed opportunity there and there is a lot that the two countries can learn from each other so that Africa as a continent can benefit from tourism.

“We want to explore Nigeria, I am looking forward to that this year so that we can be able to explore and share the good stories about what Nigeria has to offer,’’ he said.