South Africa Sees Nearly 20 Percent Increase In Tourism In 2012

Earlier this week South African Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk told a diverse crowd that gathered at AMARIDIAN, a prestigious New York gallery, that his country is on pace to break previous records for international arrivals. The Minister said that there has been a 19.2% increase in tourism overall since the start of the year, putting arrival numbers well ahead of the record set back in 2010.

In the U.S., to help promote South Africa’s evolving art and music scene, van Schalkwyk couldn’t help but be pleased with the current state of tourism in his nation. These impressive numbers will help the country reach some very important milestones in the years ahead. South Africa has set a goal for itself of attracting 15 million visitors by 2020 while also increasing revenues to $75 billion per year and creating 225,000 new jobs.

Having visited South Africa myself, it is easy to understand why it is such a popular destination. The country truly has something to offer travelers of all types. Cape Town and Johannesburg are two very modern cities with thriving nightlife, amazing culinary options and luxurious accommodations. The country’s outstanding wine region is a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life, while the year-round beaches are amongst the best in the world.

Of course, for the truly adventurous traveler, South Africa has plenty to offer as well. Kruger National Park is a legendary safari destination and hiking trails abound throughout the Western Cape. Adrenaline junkies can enjoy everything from bungee jumping and mountain biking to whitewater rafting and shark diving, with just about everything in between.

Knowing my love for Africa, I’m regularly asked by friends where I would recommend they travel on their first visit to the continent. It is difficult not to recommend South Africa simply because it has such diverse experiences to offer visitors. As a one-stop destination, SA is a country that really does have it all.

[Photo credit: Warrickball via Wikimedia]

Video: How To Cook A Sheep’s Head

One of the great pleasures of travel is the food. Of course, sometimes the food can be a bit strange. A new web series called “Africa on a Plate” takes you across the continent in search of unusual delicacies that aren’t so unusual in the local area. In the first episode, host Lentswe Bhengu shows us how they cook a sheep’s head in South Africa.

This video is part one of two. You can see the second half of this episode here, where Lentswe samples some home brew and eats a sheep’s head.

I must admit I was a bit put off at first, but as this episode progressed I could almost smell the rich meat being cooked to perfection. With a bit of seasoning I could eat this. Well, maybe not the eyes, but certainly the tongue and cheek.

For more “Africa on a Plate,” check out their YouTube Channel. They’re a brand new startup asking for funds on their Indiegogo site. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Best of luck to you guys!

This isn’t your usual how to cook show. Sit back and enjoy!

Wanted: American couple for South Africa Tourism commercial

South Africa Tourism (SAT) has launched their 20 Experiences in 10 Days campaign, and now they’re looking for fresh faces to help spread the word. The program is designed to sell South Africa as an adventurous, romantic, and cultural destination amongst Americans and to that end, SAT is looking for a real-life American couple to star in a new television commercial that is set to air internationally.

The casting director for the new spot is looking for couples ranging in age from 24-36 who are either married or in a committed relationship. They must also be available to attend in audition either in New York (Dec. 5-9) or Los Angeles (Dec. 10-12) and if hired for the gig, be ready to travel to South Africa for filming from January 20 – February 5th of 2012.

SAT promises it won’t be all work however, as the lucky couple selected will be sent off on a free, once in a life time trip to South Africa. During their ten day visit, they’ll have the opportunity to experience luxurious spas, sample the country’s world-famous wines, and soak up the diverse and cosmopolitan culture. They’ll also go hot air ballooning, surfing in the wild waters off the coast, and spot exotic animals on safari.

For more information, check out the Visit South Africa Facebook page where you’ll find the application form. The deadline for entry is Monday, November 28th. Who knows, you might just be the star of the new commercial, and get an amazing free trip as well.