South Africa saw a huge increase of Chinese tourists in January and the country is expecting a Chinese tourist boom with a series of measures to facilitate their coming, according to South Africa's digital publishing house, 24.com.
The report said data from Statistics South Africa show that 1,012,641 tourist arrivals to South Africa were recorded in January this year, up 15 percent from that of the same month last year. It is the first time South Africa had more than one million tourist arrivals in a month, it said.
The report said 79 percent arrived from African countries and the others were from overseas. And of the overseas visitors, arrivals from China grew by 93 percent.
South Africa Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom indicated that despite China's economic slow-down, there is an expected boom of Chinese tourists in South Africa, the report said.
It said a series of measures have been taken to attract expected Chinese tourists.
With an Accredited Travel Company program in China, which was announced by the Department of Home Affairs of South Africa in January, Chinese travelers to South Africa don't need to make in-person applications at visa processing centers any more.
There's also no requirement for Chinese nationals to have transit visas to travel to South Africa's neighboring countries.
South Africa also opened new visa facilitation centers in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. The country already had visa centers in Beijing and Shanghai. Five more centers are expected to be open at the end of April in another five provincial capitals.
"We are confident that the number of tourists visiting South Africa from China will grow significantly this year. Our discussions with the Chinese travel trade have included measures on how to make the best of the expected boom," Hanekom was quoted as saying.
In 2015, China was the world's top outbound tourist market, with more than 100 million Chinese traveling abroad.
With the opening of direct flights, relaxation of visa regimes and other incentives, many African countries are expecting the arrival of more Chinese tourists, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency on Thursday.
In 2015, China Southern Airlines launched flights to Kenya's capital, Nairobi, from Guangzhou and Air China also launched direct flights from Beijing to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.