South African Tourism (SA Tourism) and global payments technology company Visa have signed an agreement that will see the two organisations working closely together to promote the country's tourist attractions to an international audience.
The "South Africa and Visa Welcomes You" campaign will seek to amplify SA Tourism's existing efforts to promote South Africa as a travel destination for tourists and promote the use of Visa cards by visitors.
The agreement was a natural progression in the company's existing role in the global tourism industry, Visa South Africa's country manager, Mandy Lamb, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"South Africa remains a firm favourite among tourists from various parts of the world because of the country's diverse tourist attractions.
'Tourism key to unlocking growth'
"As a major contributor to South Africa's gross domestic product, the tourism sector is key to unlocking economic growth and our aim is to put efforts behind articulating South Africa's advanced electronic payment network, which supports payments by Visa cards," Lamb said.
Visa's latest Tourism Outlook on South Africa report - released in September - showed that tourist arrivals to South Africa rose 3% in 2011, despite tough global economic conditions.
The country also recorded an increase of 10.5% in the number of arrivals during the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period last year.
There has been a notable increase in the number of tourist inflows from neighbouring African countries such Angola, Mozambique and one of Africa's economic powerhouses, Nigeria.
The alliance would see the two organisations combining their strengths to promote South Africa as the destination of choice and provide useful tips to tourists on how to manage their travel expenses safely and conveniently, said SA Tourism's regional director for Africa, Phumi Dhlomo.
"Our relationship with Visa is of a symbiotic nature and we see it as a long-term venture that will benefit the South African economy and position the country as Africa's prime tourist destination," he said.
Over the coming months, Visa and SA Tourism will embark on a variety of activities geared towards promoting tourism and showing the convenience of card usage while in South Africa.
The two entities plan to support the retailers' end-of-year sales in January 2013 with point-of-sales visibility and card activation campaigns to drive visitors' in-store. This will be used as a platform to promote the South African retail sector during the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
The Visa and SA Tourism alliance will also look at further strengthening inflows from emerging markets such as China and India and traditional markets like the United Kingdom, United States and Germany.