South Africa

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Up in the world: Five South African destinations – including Pretoria – make global most-loved list

Pretoria at 73: A general view of Jacaranda trees on October 27, 2020 in Pretoria. (Photo by Gallo Images/Lefty Shivambu)

Five South African places have made it to the Top 100 destinations for 2021, according to a global tourism sentiment index. Now you, the reader, can have your say.

The well-known  Western Cape tourist destinations of Stellenbosch, Knysna, Cape Town and Hermanus have made it onto the Top 100 Most Loved Destinations in 2021, with Pretoria  – the “Jacaranda City” – in Gauteng also making the cut, according to the Tourism Sentiment Index, a travel data intelligence solution. 

Knysna at 19: Knysna Lagoon viewed from Brenton on Sea on November 29, 2021.  (Photo by Gallo Images/ER Lombard)
Stellenbosch at 23: A general view of Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden on September 20, 2021 in Stellenbosch. (Photo by Gallo Images/ER Lombard)
Hermanus at 41: A humpback whale in Hermanus in the Western Cape. (Photo: Southern Right Charters)
Cape Town at 54: Big Bay on February 02, 2021 in Cape Town. (Photo: Gallo Images/Shaun Roy)
Pretoria at 73: The Blyde Crystal Lagoon in Pretoria. (Photo: Gallo Images/Rapport/Deon Raath)

These five top places were selected after an “intensive study” which analysed 1.6 billion online conversations and online pieces. Most of the conversations were from Twitter and LinkedIn. 

The top three global spots went to: Udaipur in India with a score of 37.72, the Whitsundays in Queensland, Australia (37.76) and Sunshine Coast in Queensland (37.90). 

The capital city of Pretoria,  which houses the famous Union Buildings,  was ranked the 73rd most-loved destination, while Cape Town was 54th. The other three Western Cape cities were among the top 50 – Hermanus (41), Stellenbosch (23) and Knysna (19). 

The Tourism Sentiment Index is able to analyse conversations all over the world in 16 languages, including English, Japanese, French and German.

Looking at the number of positive online conversations about a city, the index produced a Tourism Sentiment Score for each one. 

According to the index, it can detect and calculate nuances, including sarcasm. 

“Because communication is ever-evolving in the way sarcasm and slang are expressed, we continuously update our systems to adapt to changes in the way people share their destination experiences. In addition, our analysts review conversations across each tourism asset to ensure the highest level of accuracy we can provide,” says the index’s website.

The data would be classified as positive, neutral or negative as artificial intelligence deciphers sentiment from human expression.

Pretoria scores 24.77, Hermanus 27.65, Cape Town 26.24, Stellenbosch 29.31 and Knysna 30.23.

The ratings for these five destinations come as the tourism industry is still weathering the storm of the protracted Covid pandemic. Welcoming the results, the Western Cape Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency said in a statement that their research had seen an uptick in local and domestic visitors in the province. “Passenger arrivals through Cape Town International Airport’s domestic terminal reached a high in December 2021, representing an impressive 66% recovery rate when compared to the same period in 2019.  International arrivals also performed well in October, reaching their peak in November 2021 with a 41% recovery rate. Although in December international passenger arrivals were less than a third of what they were in the same month in 2019, they grew by 28% when compared with figures from the previous year.,” the statement said. DM

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