South Africa’s tourism industry has received a boost as three of its towns made it to the world’s top 100 most loved destinations, according to the Tourism Sentiment Index (TSI) for 2022.
The winning destination trio includes Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and Hermanus, all located in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
South Africa’s Tourism Sentiment Score® (TSI) is its primary brand performance indicator and rallying point for the country to take action.
The sentiment analysis provided by the TSI is based on online conversations from around the world. Each of the 50 tourism asset scores is weighted based on the size of the conversation and sentiment.
To determine the 100 most loved destinations around the globe, according to consumer sentiment, the study tracked more than 1.6 billion online conversations and content pieces publicly available and about 21,330 global destinations to identify the top 100 most loved destinations worldwide.
The TSI measures and fuels progress for South African Tourism as the country charts its way through the impacts of the COVID-19 19 global pandemic.
Of note, six out of the top 10 destinations identified by online conversations and sentiment have beaches as their primary asset, highlighting the significant value travelers place on this particular attraction and experience in their travels.
The top three destinations in the world, all renowned for their pristine beaches, are the Maldives (number 1), the Whitsundays in Queensland, Australia, and the Sunshine Coast, also located in Queensland, Australia.
And the top three destinations from the African continent were Seychelles (4th), Mauritius (13th), and Zanzibar (16th).
Hermanus is leading the pack in South Africa at number 18 in the world after being seeded 41 last year. It notched the best status, with its top asset being wildlife viewing. The city is situated on Walker Bay, home to the Southern Right Whale during the winter months from June to November. It is a picturesque coastal town known for its natural beauty and it has become world-famous for being one of the best places in the world to do land-based whale watching. Hermanus also boasts the world’s only whale crier, who alerts townsfolk on land when whales have been sighted by blowing on a loud kelp horn.
Hermanus is a town known for its pristine beaches, which attract both locals and visitors. Among them is Grotto Beach, an internationally recognized beach that boasts a Blue Flag award for its cleanliness and safety. All of the beaches in Hermanus are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnics.
In addition to its natural beauty, Hermanus is also famous for its wines and vineyards. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, located just outside the town, is home to some of South Africa’s finest vineyards. Explorers can take a wine-tasting tour, sample the various wines, and enjoy a picnic in the vineyards.
It also has a quaint and charming atmosphere with many cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. The town’s Main Road is lined with shops that sell everything from local crafts to designer clothing. The town is also home to a range of galleries and studios that showcase the work of local artists.
For those interested in outdoor activities, Hermanus has plenty to offer. Visitors can hike through the nearby Fernkloof Nature Reserve, which boasts diverse flora and fauna. The nearby Klein River Estuary is ideal for bird-watching and kayaking.
Stellenbosch, a charming town with a rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, has been ranked the 34th most-loved destination in 2022. Its greatest asset is its wineries and vineyards, making it the ultimate destination for wine enthusiasts. The town is also home to the prestigious Stellenbosch University, ranked #304 in Best Global Universities. The surrounding wine farms make Stellenbosch a popular destination for locals and tourists.
One of the main attractions in Stellenbosch is the Cape Dutch architecture that dominates the town’s landscape. These unique buildings are characterized by their thatched roofs, whitewashed walls, and gabled facades. Travelers can stroll through the town and explore the many museums, art galleries, and restaurants housed in these historic buildings.
South Africa is one of the largest wine-producing regions in the world, with an estimated 2.5 billion liters of wine produced in the country in 2020 alone. Stellenbosch significantly contributes to this output, producing approximately 14% of South Africa’s total wine. Globetrotters can tour the wine estates, sample the various wines, and learn about the winemaking process. The scenic beauty of the vineyards, surrounded by majestic mountains, makes for a truly unforgettable experience.
For those interested in history and culture, Stellenbosch has a rich heritage reflected in its many museums and galleries. The Stellenbosch Village Museum, for example, showcases the town’s cultural history through a collection of four historic houses. On the other hand, the Rupert Museum houses a collection of South African and international art, including works by Rembrandt and Degas.
Stellenbosch is also a food lover’s paradise, with various restaurants and cafes offering everything from traditional South African cuisine to international delicacies. The town’s vibrant food scene is complemented by its many markets and festivals, such as the Stellenbosch Wine Festival and the Slow Market.
Cape Town, an iconic city on the country’s southwestern coast, has been ranked as the 40th most-loved destination in the world. It is a cosmopolitan city combining its rich history with modern amenities. It offers something for everyone, from its stunning beaches to its bustling city center. It is famed for its restaurants and dining. In the previous year, Cape Town was ranked 54th but managed to improve, with food and dining being the driving force behind the upgrading.
The globally-renowned Table Mountain is a must-visit attraction in Cape Town, standing tall at 1,085 meters above sea level. The views from the top are breathtaking and offer panoramic views of the city, the coastline, and beyond. Sightseers can take a cable car ride to the top of the Mountain or hike up one of the many trails for those feeling adventurous.
The V&A Waterfront is one of Cape Town’s most iconic landmarks, and it offers a wealth of activities and attractions for holidaymakers of all ages. Located on the picturesque Victoria & Alfred Basin, this bustling hub of activity is home to shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and much more. Tourists can enjoy a wide range of activities, such as visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium, taking a boat trip to Robben Island (where former President Nelson Mandela spent 18 of 27 years of imprisonment there), or browsing the many shops selling local crafts and souvenirs.
Cape Town is also home to a diverse array of cultures, which is reflected in its food, music, and festivals. The Bo-Kaap neighborhood, located in the city center, is home to the Cape Malay community and is famous for its brightly painted houses and delicious local cuisine.
Cape Town’s beaches are another major drawcard with crystal clear waters and stunning views. The most popular beaches include Clifton, Camps Bay, and Llandudno, each offering its own unique atmosphere and activities, such as surfing, swimming, and sunbathing.
For those interested in history, Cape Town has a rich past reflected in its architecture and museums. The District Six Museum tells the story of the forced removals during the Apartheid era which ended in 1994. At the same time, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa and offers a glimpse into the city’s past.
Including three of South Africa’s crown jewels in the top 100 most-loved destinations in the world is a significant achievement. It confirms the country’s position of being a destination of choice for travelers from various parts of the world. The cumulative arrivals from January to October 2022 amounted to 4,5 million. This was 47% below 2019 pre-pandemic levels, but the 2022 levels have improved significantly since 2021, according to former Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.