South Africa's sunny shores saw an increase in visitors from India in 2012, and is hoping to build on this foundation through South African Tourism's campaigns aimed specifically at the Indian market, says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
Tourist arrivals from India to South Africa between January and September last year numbered 79 000, an 18% increase on the previous year's statistics.
"South African Tourisn has been promoting our destination in India since 2005, focusing on film, fashion, sports and food and wine," Van Schalkwyk said at the opening of the Travel Agents Federation of India conference in Durban on Monday.
"Three years ago we identified India as a core market and capacitated it with a fully operational South African Tourism office."
The two countries also enjoy a healthy trade and business relationship. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first signing of the agreement establishing full diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"The bilateral relations between India and South Africa have grown so much stronger since," he said. "We have developed very close strategic, cultural and economic ties."
South Africa is hoping to strengthen the relationship through numerous campaigns aimed at India. "The more you do, the closer you get" campaign has just been launched, and there is another campaign hot on its heels, to be launched in March.
Its recently launched "the more you do, the closer you get" campaign is looking to increase visitor numbers through the message that the more experiences you have, the closer you get to the people you are with and the country you are travelling in.
The next campaign will be launched next month and features former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes. South African Tourism is in the process of training 1 000 Indian travel agents and tour operators to enable them to sell the country to the Indian market.
"Our goal is to break the 100 000 arrivals mark by 2014 and we are confident we will achieve this," Van Schalkwyk said.
Plans to deepen their partnership as emerging markets. "Emerging markets are important source markets, but even more importantly, we are emerging destinations bound to change travel patterns around the world," he said.
"In our lifetime I have no doubt that we, as emerging destinations, will become the centre of the universe for international tourism flows."