Tourists love South Africa, so don't blow it with greed
The Times Editorial: No matter how small the global village might seem we are still an arduous flight away from Japan, China, Europe and North America.
Though tourist arrival numbers grew by more than 10% last year, the tourism industry should not forget that we are a "long-haul" destination.
Long-haul destinations have to manage their appeal very well. Of course there will always be wealthy tourists who rent villas in Camps Bay or hunt the Big Five (legally) at private game reserves. They are not too sensitive about costs and we have done well to attract them and their money.
But the real growth opportunities lie in attracting regular middle-class visitors.
The tourism landscape is changing. The Chinese have overtaken the Germans, the Italians, the Americans and the Japanese as the most lucrative tourism target .
Reports suggest that as many as 83million Chinese will this year don backpacks, pick up guidebooks and cameras and go exploring outside their country.
But the Chinese stay for shorter periods and typically spend less money per trip than their European counterparts.
The weaker rand should be seen as an opportunity. South Africa now potentially offers more value for your travelling dollar, yen, yuan or euro than it did a year ago.
What you pay for a cup of coffee in Zurich can get you a decent steak in Johannesburg.
Unfortunately, this opportunity creates the temptation to charge more, to inflate prices for tourists, to rake in as much as we can.
Guesthouse owners, travel operators and restaurateurs should not forget that our new visitors are also marketers.
"Was South Africa worth the money?"
That is not what we want.
Though tourists sometimes amble around like cows and seem to graze forever in front of every place of interest, they do notice when they are getting milked.