SA lodges among world's 10 best
South Africa once again showed its tourism muscle when two bush lodges claimed top-10 status in the US Travel and Leisure World awards.
South African Luke Bailes will receive the sought-after best hotel in the world award tomorrow night for his lodge the Singita Grumeti, in Tanzania.
This is the second consecutive year that the Tanzanian lodge has won the prize.
Singita's sister lodges in South Africa have also been accorded top-10 status, with Singita Kruger National Park and Singita Sabi Sand coming in at 7th and 10th respectively.
South African hotels that took top-100 awards included the Sabi Sabi private game reserve lodges (13), Cape Town's One&Only (14), the Saxon boutique hotel in Johannesburg (33), the Twelve Apostles (41) and the Cape Grace (44).
"We are always striving for top-notch world standards but have one main objective: to preserve and protect significant tracts of land, pristine wilderness for future generations," said Bailes.
He attributed the Singita lodges' success to their authenticity and originality.
"I often ask foreign visitors why they consider the service to be such an outstanding feature during their stay and most say it's because the staff are so warm and embracing. That's the African way," Bailes said.
However, only a select few South Africans will ever be able to experience the Singita Kruger National Park's hospitality because it doesn't come cheap.
According to the lodge's website, a stay could cost as much as R13000 a person a night.
"We acknowledge the high price, driven by the quality of the offering," said chief marketing officer Lindy Rousseau.
She said South Africans comprised between 4% and 5% of the visitors to the Tanzanian lodge and about 10% of the clientele at the South African lodges.
The Department of Tourism said that more than 2million tourists had visited locales in South Africa between January and March.
This represented a 17.8% rise in overseas arrivals, most of whom were from Europe.
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the UK, South Africa's biggest tourism market, had recovered from an overall decline in 2011 to an increase for this year of 9.5%.
SA Tourism's chief marketing officer, Roshene Singh, said: "Readers of Lonely Planet, in India, recently voted South Africa the world's best wildlife destination.
"We're very proud of our country's breathtaking wildlife tourist experience."