Interest grows in republic
SOUTH Africa is a growing market for Hongkong tourists and business travellers.
''The country has been isolated for several years, and now people want to see the opportunities there,'' said the managing director of Breakaway Tours, Chan Kam-pui.
Breakaway Tours' parent company, the Southern Sun Group, owns and manages 54 hotels in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mauritius.
''South Africa is our principle market, and we arrange tours in and out of the country,'' said Mr Chan.
''Many people say how beautiful the country is and I expect to see double digit growth in the number of visitors during the next five years.'' Mr Chan puts together a series of package tours each year to suit the season and demand.
These include a yearly horse racing tour during the summer when Sha Tin and Happy Valley are closed, but he is considering a second tour during Lunar New Year.
Not all the travel is for fun.
With the Hongkong Trade Development Council and the chambers of commerce, he has put together investment study groups during Lunar New Year and the summer.
These involve visits to banks and various other organisations to sound out business opportunities in South Africa.
He has also taken an immigration group to South Africa to look at housing and business.
Passengers travel on South African Airways (SAA). Most are from Hongkong, China and Singapore, with a few from Bangkok and Taipei.
''The Chinese have a great interest in South Africa and, although South Africa and China do not recognise each other, China provides more visitors than Hongkong,'' he said.
Mr Chan attends InterTour to find out about products offered by other countries, to see what hotels are available and to determine the trends.
He joined the South African tourism booth last year.