Tourism Month is celebrated in South Africa each year in September with the intention of encouraging South Africans to explore their own country. The annual event is co-ordinated to line up with World Tourism Day on 27 September.
Generally, when one thinks of travel, an international destination is the first place that comes to mind along with the sights and adventures found in a foreign country.
We tend to forget the beauty in our own back yard and all that the many different cultures of our land have to offer – from our magical seaside destinations to historic hillside retreats and enviable inland Big Five safaris.
South Africa is a popular destination among many foreign travellers. According to the 2016/17 South African Tourism Annual Report, 10 million international tourists flocked to experience South Africa in 2016. The same report states that 11.7 million South Africans took 24.3 million trips around their own scenic country in the same year.
According to South African Tourism, these are the Top 10 destinations to visit in our country.
- Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula up to Cape Point – South Africa’s ‘Mother City’ is known the world-over for her iconic Table Mountain and scenic beauty.
- The Cape Winelands – Travel the beautiful cape wine routes through green valleys and historic towns, and sample South Africa’s award-winning wines.
- The Garden Route – A scenic stretch of coastline on the South Eastern belt of South Africa stretches from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape and includes tourist hot spots such as Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley. George is the largest city and main administrative centre of the Garden Route.
- Johannesburg – South Africa’s own City of Gold.
- Kruger National Park – Nearly two million hectares in size, this world-renowned wildlife experience with a reported 16 eco systems, ranks among the best parks in Africa.
- Durban Beachfront – aka ‘Durbs by the Sea’ in KwaZulu Natal.
- Robben Island – Off the coast of Table Bay in Cape Town, Robben Island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 by Unesco. It is an iconic symbol of the apartheid era where political prisoners, including Former President Nelson Mandela, were kept.
- Soweto – South Africa’s largest and most famous township steeped in historic freedom struggle sites.
- Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve – A tourism treasure in Mpumalanga and the third largest canyon in the world.
- Wild Coast – A destination of choice in the Eastern Cape and one of South Africa’s most remote stretches of shoreline.
Remember, whether travelling locally or abroad, it is vital to plan for a safe and healthy trip. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travellers should:
- Learn about their destination
- See a doctor before they travel
- Think about their health status (e.g. Could they be too sick to travel, or do they have special health needs.)
The CDC advises to be prepared and plan ahead for illnesses and injuries during your trip. While this may be the last thing on your mind while planning a vacation, these events can’t be prevented but we can plan ahead to be able to deal with them, the CDC says.
Supplies that can make up a healthy packing list, according to the CDC, include:
- Hand sanitizer or wipes to keep your hands germ-free
- Water purification tablets (if camping or visiting remote areas)
- Insect repellent
- Permethrin (insect repellent for clothing)
- A bed net (to protect against insect bites while sleeping)
- Sunglasses and hat
- Personal safety equipment (e.g. Child safety seats, bike helmets)
- Cotton swabs
- Eye drops
- Oral rehydration salts
If you have a health condition or any other health concerns, speak to your local pharmacist or healthcare practitioner about them before you travel. It may also be a good idea to have your blood pressure and sugar levels tested if you prefer to err on the side of safety.