South African tourism industry sets to attract 10 million foreign tourists by 2010 when the country hosts the Soccer World Cup.
South African Tourism, local industry's marketing agency, made the forecast with belief that global attention would increasingly shift to South Africa ahead of the world soccer extravaganza in 2010.
The soccer tournament was an opportunity for the local industry to meet and exceed expectations of tourists "and develop a firm platform for tourism growth," South African newspaper Business Day on Tuesday quoted Moeketsi Mosola, CEO of South African Tourism, as saying.
Mosola said tourism accounted for 8 percent of the country's gross domestic product "with the potential to soar to 12 percent by 2014."
He said foreign tourist arrivals last year broke the 7-million "psychological barrier" as a record-breaking total of 7.4 million foreign tourists came to South Africa, famous for its unique scenery and cultural diversity.
The majority of foreign tourists come from other African countries, followed by Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East. Total direct spending of foreign and domestic tourists was 74.6 billion rand (US$10.5 billion).
However, the organization expressed its concern over a 13.41 percent decline of tourists from the emerging Chinese market, with many groups canceling their bookings on concern over crime and security in South Africa.
The organization plans to counter the perceptions through awareness and marketing campaigns, while encouraging "more balanced media reporting on South African society."
(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2006)