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Africa Travel Association's Prestige Magazine to publish a "GRAND TOUR "OF SOUTH AFRICA" edition, with long-term, year-round, worldwide distribution.



PROFILE Submitted by David J. Saunders

April 27, 2004 marked the tenth anniversary of South Africa's first democratic elections. In celebration of the first decade of freedom, South Africans are preparing for celebrations and also taking stock of the country's achievements and collective experience since 1994. The historic decision by the leadership of the apartheid regime to dissolve itself and negotiate a new South African government with the African National Congress (ANC) eventually led to Nelson Mandela being elected as the first black African of an independent South Africa in 1994. The tenth anniversary celebrations are therefore aimed at uniting the country in recognizing the achievements of South Africa and the consolidation of democracy since April 27, 1994. To this end, an official logo featuring the national flag and recalling the election of 1994 has been commissioned and many celebrations will be held over several months leading up to April 27, 2004, to include both formal and spontaneous popular events, in South Africa and internationally.

While the government of South Africa takes responsibility for the core national events, the ultimate success of these celebrations will depend on contributions from every sector, with an overarching common framework captured in the theme "Celebrating Ten Years of Freedom: A People United for a Better South Africa and a Better World". The government has emphasized the importance of various political formations in this important milestone event, and the need for all South Africans to unite in this national objective. The celebrations are therefore designed to also provide an opportunity to consolidate the emergence of the national identity as well as for international positioning of South Africa. It will be a period both for review of progress and for assessing the challenges of the coming decade in an effort to improve the quality of life for all South Africans.

The government of South Africa has specifically designed a strategic framework to mark the tenth anniversary on April 27, 2004 by highlighting the following characteristics of this vibrant young democracy as follows: (a) mark the end of the first decade of freedom and the beginning of the next decade; (b) recall the action of the South African people in 1994; (c) be a time to celebrate, review progress, build a better and more united South Africa, assess challenges in alignment with NEPAD, UN Millennium Development Goals, Africa's Renaissance and a better world; (d) celebrate constitution and consolidate legitimacy of democratic state; (e) consolidate the emergence of national identity and consensus on projecting selves to the world; (f) bring opportunity for international positioning and marketing; and (g) reinvigorate transformation of solidarity in struggle into partnership for reconstruction and development. The celebrations, culminating in April 27, 2004 will include: (a) formal ceremonies and spontaneous popular events; (b) national and international, incorporating programs of South Africa missions in national plans; (c) contributions from every sector; and (d) happening over many months.

Since the achievement of democracy in 1994, the government of South Africa has made steady progress in enhancing its national pride by addressing apartheid's legacy of inequality and poverty. This has required the development and implementation of concrete programs for expanding service delivery and eradicating the socioeconomic disparities within South African society; encouraging sustainable economic growth in a highly competitive and volatile global setting; consolidation of democracy and culture of human rights; and for South Africa to play its part to the fullest in promoting development, peace and democracy in the southern African region, the African continent and the world as a whole. Since 1994, South Africa has enhanced its status as the most advanced economy on the African continent by consistently pursuing sound and prudent economic policies. However, while the country is rich in natural resources and has an economy which in many ways displays highly developed features, there still exist disparities in the distribution of wealth, joblessness and poverty with serious implications for broader sociopolitical policy directions.

In today's South Africa you will find a nation of creative, productive, generous and hardworking people, determined to make South Africa an example of the best that humanity can attain. Over these past ten years, South Africa has been able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenges and difficulties of the past, and will keep overcoming challenges that it faces, finding solutions to whatever is thrown at it. In addition, while South Africa seeks to deal with its own domestic challenges, it remains involved in matters relating to the development of Africa, the southern African region and the world, recognizing that no particular country can solve its own problems or achieve lasting prosperity in isolation. Consequently, South Africa is firmly convinced of the need for the African continents recovery, as a prerequisite for the reconstruction and development of its own nation. South Africa's commitment to doing whatever it can within its capacity to promote this is reflected in its efforts around the development of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), its active participation in the African Union (AU), and in the mobilization of support within the industrialized world for a sustained partnership for Africa's recovery.

South Africa also strives to improve regional economic growth and development through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a structure that seeks to promote conditions for regional peace and security, sectoral cooperation and an integrated regional economy. South Africa is a proud member of SADC, and its foreign policy with regard to the region, reflects a commitment to close diplomatic, economic and security cooperation and integration, adherence to human rights, the promotion of democracy, and the preservation of regional solidarity, peace and stability. South Africa definitely believes that it can continue to play a significant role within SADC by offering technical and financial assistance, with a view towards capacity-building as a major instrument for promoting economic development, peace and stability, democracy and the African Renaissance on a regional scale.

Country Profile: The Republic of South Africa is a democratic nation with President Thabo Mbeki as the current head of state. In April of 2004, the African National Congress (ANC) won a third major victory during national elections and received a majority position of two-thirds membership in Parliament. The Republic of South Africa is located at the southernmost tip of the African continent and is roughly twice the size of the state of Texas. It is bordered on the north by Botswana and Zimbabwe, on the east by Mozambique, with its eastern and southern coastline bordered by the Indian Ocean, on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the northwest by Namibia. It is also the only country on the African continent to share its coastline with two oceans. In addition, located within its borders are the two countries, Lesotho and Swaziland.

South Africa has nine provinces as follows: Limpopo (formerly Northern Province), Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, and the Northwest Province. The main cities of South Africa are: Johannesburg (Economic Capital) with an estimated 2 million inhabitants, Cape Town (Political Capital) with an estimated 3 million inhabitants, Durban with an estimated 1 million inhabitants, Pretoria (Administrative Capital) with an estimated 1 million inhabitants, as well as Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein (Judicial Capital) and East London. The total estimated population of South Africa is 43 million with more than 70% of the population comprised of black African heritage with another estimated 13% whites, 8.5% colored, and 2.5% East Indian. Two-thirds of the black South Africa people belong to the Nguni group and speak Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi and Ndebele. The remaining belongs to the South, North and West Sotho (Tswana), the Tsonga, and the Venda. The coloreds are a mixed race of people and the Indians are the descendants of indentured laborers brought to the Natal area by Britain in the 1860s to work on sugar plantations. There are ten official languages spoken to include English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. It should be noted that Afrikaans (the 11th official language) is still widely spoken in South Africa although there is sensitivity to this national language from a cultural and historical aspect.


Economic Profile: Rated by the United Nations as one of the world's top 25 industrialized nations and by the U.S. Commerce Department as one of the few select Big Emerging Markets (BEMs), South Africa offers great potential for exporters and investors with the right products, resources and commitment. South Africa has a substantial and sophisticated market with significant growth potential, well-developed financial institutions and capital markets, first rate communication and transportation linkages and readily available, inexpensive electrical powers and raw materials. In addition, South Africa offers easy access not only to neighboring markets but elsewhere in Africa. The currency of South Africa is the Rand (ZAR) with one Rand currently equal to 6.43 U.S. dollars. South Africa is the leading economic power on the African continent which represents approximately 40% of the total industrial production.

This relative economic wealth is to a large degree founded on large mineral reserves which is located in diverse geological formations. Several of its areas of production are among the top in the world: precious metals (gold, platinum and associated metals), as the world's number one producer; coal, as the world's number four producer; rough diamonds, as the world's number five producer with almost ten percent of the world's production. South Africa's gold is an estimated forty percent of the world's gold reserves and the country is also the world's largest producer of platinum and chromium. Another fascinating note is that while South Africa possesses no hydrocarbons, it is the only country in the world to produce oil from coal on a commercial scale. Agriculture and forestry accounts for an estimated five percent of GDP with an estimated thirteen percent of total employment; the mining industry accounts for an estimated eight percent of GDP; and the manufacturing industry accounts for more than thirty-two percent of GDP.

In South Africa, considerable industrialization takes up more that one-third of employment with the manufacturing industry producing a wide range of consumer goods, including food products, textiles, footwear and clothing, metal and chemical products, and paper and paper products. The production of capital goods such as machinery, transport and electrical equipment is also expanding. South Africa's major trading partners are the European Union, the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan and France. The South African government sees its broad goals as the creation of a strong, dynamic and balanced economy; the elimination of poverty; meeting the basic needs of every South African; development of human resources; protection against racial or gender discrimination in hiring, promotion and training; the development of a prosperous and balanced regional economy in southern Africa; and its integration into the world economy.

Most recently, the United States has been the number one foreign investor as well as the most important trading partner to South Africa. In February of 1999, the United States and South Africa signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) which was the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, South Africa has benefited greatly from its participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). South Africa's exports to the United States consist of a more diversified range of not just raw commodity products but high-value added products with motor vehicles being a very important component. Currently, South Africa is the second largest beneficiary from participation with AGOA and is also a member of the South African Customs Union (SACU) which is involved in negotiations with the United States on a SACU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

South African Airways, the nation's flagship airline carrier has been in operation for more than seventy years, and provides direct flights into South Africa from the United States (New York and Atlanta) on a daily basis as well as servicing a myriad of African nations from Dakar, Senegal to Cape Town, South Africa to Nairobi, Kenya. South African Airways also provides connecting flights throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. South Africa and has three international airports: Cape Town which ranks 3rd in Africa with more than 4.5 million passengers in 2000 and also ranks 9th for freight shipment; Johannesburg which ranks 1st in African transport with more than 11 million passengers in 2000 and 1st for freight shipment; and Durban which ranks 9th in Africa with more than 2.5 million passengers in 2000. To learn more about South African Airways, please visit their website at HYPERLINK "http://www.flysa.com

South Africa also has seven international seaports (with three South African seaports ranked among the top six on the continent for shipping traffic including several specialized ports: Saldanha, Richard's Bay (1st in Africa) and Durban (4th in Africa as well as the number one container terminal in Africa with 70% of the container shipping traffic). South Africa's modern and extensive transportation system (airways, railways, roadways and shipping) places it in the company of top industrialized nations and a number of southern African nations use this network to move their imports and exports. In addition, South Africa is known for its world-famous luxurious Blue Train and Rovos Rail systems which service most major cities in South Africa.

Developmental Challenges: Eradicating apartheid's legacy of poverty and inequality requires a targeted program of action focused on the social enhancement of especially the most disadvantaged in South African society. It combines direct poverty alleviation programs with the broadening of access to social services and infrastructure, housing, electrification, social development, health, education, water, telecommunications, sport and recreational facilities. The successful transition to democracy in South Africa since 1994 has been accomplished by implementing improved economic performance ñ sustained economic growth, significant capital inflows, a growing export sector, and an improved business and consumer confidence. Special attention is also being paid to supporting small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) as well as black economic empowerment which is a focus in government's endeavors to promote economic growth and development to a previously disenfranchised segment of society.

Another serious concern impacting the continued growth and development of South Africa is improving the nation's public health conditions. The government takes a comprehensive approach to the health challenges facing the nation, to ensure an effective response to all infectious diseases and an effective impact on the overall general public health of the nation. South Africa has made a concerted commitment toward providing basic health care as a fundamental right, and the government's health care policy seeks to provide health care that is affordable and accessible to all of its citizens. Most importantly, the government has instituted a five year HIV/AIDS strategic plan as the basis for a comprehensive government campaign to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Central to this campaign, which places a special emphasis on prevention and awareness along with care and treatment, is the Partnership Against AIDS in which all sectors of the society are joined with government, and which is now embodied in the South African National Council

Tourism Profile: The government of South Africa invites you to come and be dazzled by a kaleidoscope of cultures, scenery, wildlife and history stretching back to the origins of man. South Africa is affectionately known as ìA World In One Country" alive with possibilities for the tourist, investor and entrepreneur alike. In the year 2000, almost six million tourists and foreign visitors brought in an estimated $2.5 billion in revenues to South Africa. South Africa is a vast land of varied terrain ranging from arid desert to lush coastal plains, from low bush country to high mountain ranges. A huge variety of natural attractions are available including wildlife safaris, historical sites, golden beaches and areas of spectacular beauty. In addition, the richness of the country's multiethnic heritage offers a fascinating blend of cultures and traditions and thus an amazing variety of arts and crafts, such as wood carvings and beadwork, jewelry made from locally-mined gold, diamonds and semiprecious stones.

South Africa offers a full range of accommodations to include budget and luxury hotels, guest and country houses, bed and breakfast establishments, resorts and private game reserves. South Africa's sights and sounds will awaken your senses because of its great diversity of natural flora and fauna, geographical landscapes, historical and cultural heritage. But most important of all is its diverse range of people that are the true wonder of the nation and it is through the people of South Africa that any tourist will come to fully appreciate their experiences as they explore the treasures of the past, the triumphs of the present and the dreams of the future. South Africa is definitely a land of contrasts ñ here you will find city dwellers living a fast-paced cosmopolitan lifestyle and rural tribe members who still continue to live much as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. South Africa is full of vibrant art, cooking, music and architecture blended between rich traditions and cultural influences from around the world. And most exciting of all, you will experience people who are building a new South African society even as they preserve the vitality of a complex and vivid past.

There are far too many tourist attractions in South Africa to properly list in this article, but to mention just a few you have: Johannesburg which was originally a booming mining camp and is today a thriving metropolis with ample opportunities for business and entertainment. It is the commercial hub of the country and also features the significant cultural and historical aspects of Soweto. Nearby Johannesburg is Pretoria, the seat of government as well as 'Sun City' and the 'Palace of the Lost City' which offers vast entertainment and sports resorts built in the crater of an extinct volcano; Cape Town, which is fondly referred to as the 'Mother City' of South Africa which has the world famous landmark Table Mountain, which forms a dramatic backdrop to this vibrant and cosmopolitan city. In Cape Town you can wander around the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and enjoy the many shops, restaurants, bars, theaters, and museums. Nearby, you can explore the wine lands to sample the vintages and see the picturesque towns of the region as well as drive along the coastal Garden Route and view the breathtaking scenery.

Also, not to be missed is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Robben Island, which was once the infamous prison of Nelson Mandela and many other freedom fighters during the apartheid regime which has now been made into a national museum. In addition, there is the Kruger National Park (KNP) which is regarded as one of the world's finest examples of wildlife management and the home of the 'Big Five' ñ the elephant, rhinoceros, lion, leopard and buffalo ñ as well as home to a variety of other fascinating habitats in which these animals live. KNP, the crown jewel of South Africa, is the oldest national park on the African continent as well as one of the top ten national parks in the world. Another interesting site is the Drakensburg Mountain Range which is a region of lofty peaks and unusual rock formations split by rivers and waterfalls. The Drakensburg is a haven for nature lovers, particularly hikers and mountaineers. The view from the surrounding countryside is truly magnificent. Overall, South Africa is very much an activity destination and there is a wide range of options available. Scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing and yachting along the coasts, white-water rafting, bungee-jumping and hot air ballooning for the thrill seekers, mountaineering, hiking and horseback riding in the mountains, cultural heritage experiences in the various townships and villages of the country to include the beehive huts of the Zulu people, to the Ndebele artwork and jewelry to the traditional dress of the Xhosa people ñ the possibilities are endless. To learn more about these tourism attractions and many others you can visit the South African Tourism website at HYPERLINK "http://www.southafrica.net

Venue International Professionals, Inc. (VIP) is an African-American owned, full-service travel and tourism company based in the Washington Metropolitan Area specializing in travel and tourism destinations to the Continent of Africa. For more information about VIP, contact Helen C. Broadus, President of VIP at 1-877-TO-VENUE [TOLL FREE]; (301) 856-9188 [VOICE]; (301) 868-2218 [FAX]; HYPERLINK "mailto:vipinc@erols.com" vipinc@erols.com [E-MAIL]; and/or visit VIP's Website at HYPERLINK "http://www.venuetravel.com