South African Tourism has signed a two-year agreement with China's biggest online platform Tencent to help attract visitors to the country, the ministry announced on Tuesday.
The partnership would be used to promote South Africa as a preferred tourism destination in China, through digital marketing campaigns on WeChat as well as other platforms within the Tencent ecosystem.
"This strategic co-operation agreement is one of many initiatives developed to increase arrivals from China to South Africa," said Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
"Tencent, through its popular platform, WeChat, will assist us to access multiple segments of the Chinese traveller’s market."
In a statement published on the SA goverment's website on Tuesday, the minister added that South Africa was "leveraging" its significant trade relationship with China, in order to "strengthen the people-to-people exchange between the two countries".
Tencent platforms would enrich Chinese travellers' experience when they travel to South Africa, she said.
China is South Africa's biggest trading partner, but tourist numbers from the populous country have not reached their potential, with around 100 000 Chinese visitors said to have visited the country in 2018. In SA, officials have expressed the goal to increase that number to half a million annually.
According to the department of tourism, as part of the deal, Tencent will also assist SA Tourism with knowledge transfer programmes on best practices for destination development, and advise on how South Africa can accelerate the implementation of WeChat Pay for Chinese travellers.
Tencent will further advise SA Tourism on best practice for Chinese visitor experiences, and making use of QR codes.
* Fin24's parent company Media24 is part of the Naspers Group. Naspers owns a 73% of Prosus, which holds a 31% stake in Tencent.