Around 50,000 South African tourists visited Türkiye till September this year: Envoy

A total of around 50,000 South African tourists visited Türkiye this year till the end of September, making it one of the favorite holiday destinations, the Turkish ambassador to Pretoria said on Thursday.

“There is also a growing interest on the side of Turks coming to South Africa for tourism. We are currently working to increase the number of tourists going back and forth through our various cultural activities,” Aysegul Kandas told Anadolu Agency.

Kandas said some of the cultural activities the embassy and the Turkish cultural center Yunus Emre Institute usually organize include photo and art exhibitions, promotion of Turkish cuisine and films which draw huge interest among South Africans.

On Sunday, the envoy hosted a photo and art exhibition in addition to a piano recital at her residence as part of the Republic Day celebrations.

Two South Africans who traveled to Türkiye through a sponsorship of the Yunus Emre Institute in Johannesburg exhibited their works showing some of Türkiye’s best tourist attractions.

South African sketch artist Alex Maswanganyi and photographer/writer Marion Smith collaborated in the exhibition which showcased their work, themed Türkiye through the eyes of two South Africans.

Marion, who is a regular traveler to Türkiye and a travel writer, took 10 photos in Türkiye which Maswanganyi sketched and were exhibited to hundreds of people who attended Türkiye’s 99th Republic Day celebrations on Sunday and Monday.

While in Türkiye the two South Africans also exhibited their works last month in several cities, including Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara among others.

Kandas also said the embassy in collaboration with other Turkish institutions in South Africa invited Ruya Taner, an award-winning concert pianist from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, who gave a recital to an audience comprising South African government officials, diplomats and representatives of international organizations and Turks living in the country.

She also used the piano to play a beautiful rendition of the South African and Turkish national anthems during the event.

Turkish TV series attract South Africans

The envoy noted that Türkiye is becoming more popular among South Africans because of Turkish TV series being aired on local television.

“These TV series are playing a big role in bringing South Africa and Türkiye closer despite the physical distance,” she said, adding that many people who watch the series often want to find out more about the country, its people, culture and the food, hence the number of tourists is growing.

Kandas said Türkiye has also increased the number of scholarships for students applying to study in the country.

“This year we gave out 13 scholarships for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies, the highest number until now,” she revealed.

She further said students who study in Türkiye eventually become the country’s brand ambassadors when they complete their studies and come back home.

“They tell people about life in Türkiye, attractions, opportunities and eventually people get interested in visiting the country,” she noted.

Many South Africans have graduated from Turkish universities over the years.

Kandas also said that economic relations between the two countries are at their best with the trade volume growing every year.

“By the end of 2021, the trade volume reached $2 billion, and in August 2022 it climbed to $2.4 billion.

“We now expect the total trade volume to reach $3 billion by the beginning of next year,” she said.

Kandas said there are around 70 Turkish companies operating in South Africa, and about 66 South African companies operating in Türkiye.

South African companies have invested $270 million in Türkiye, she said.

Source: Anadolu Agency