South Africa is a popular tourist destination, with around 860 000 arrivals per month (March 2008) of which around 210 000 is from outside the African continent. A revenue equaling between 1% and 3% of GDP is generated by the tourism industry. Among the main attractions are the diverse and picturesque culture, the game reserves and the highly regarded local wines.

Ecotourism

Ecotourism has the potential to alleviate poverty in South Africa through bringing money into the economy and creating jobs. The difference between ecotourism and sustainable tourism is that in ecotourism, the cultural heritages of the specific area are respected and conserved. Also, in ecotourism the local people living in and around the destination are included in the planning, implementing and maintaining of the eco tourist park.

Visitor attractions

Sun City is a luxury South African casino resort, situated in the North West Province of South Africa. It is located about two hours' drive from Johannesburg, near the city of Rustenburg. The complex borders the Pilanesberg National Park.

Sun City was developed by the hotel magnate Sol Kerzner as part of his Sun International group of properties. It was officially opened on 7 December 1979; at the time it was located in the bantustan of Bophuthatswana.

As Bophuthatswana had been declared an independent state by South Africa's apartheid government (although unrecognized as such by any other country), it was allowed to provide 'immoral' entertainment (in the eyes of the South African government) such as gambling and topless revue shows, which were banned in South Africa. These factors, as well as its relatively close location to the large metropolitan areas of Pretoria and Johannesburg, ensured that Sun City soon became (and stayed) a popular holiday and weekend destination. Many famous musicians such as Queen, Elton John, Julio Iglesias, Ray Charles, Boney M., Black Sabbath, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner and Sarah Brightman also performed at the 'Sun City Super Bowl', a large auditorium which seats 6,230. Sun City also became the site of several important Heavyweight boxing matches during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

National Parks

In addition to the well known Kruger National Park, South Africa has a large number of other National Parks to visit. A complete list of National Parks and protected areas are available in Protected areas of South Africa

Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa. It covers 18,989 square km (7,332 sq mi) and extends 350 km (217 mi) from north to south and 60 km (37 mi) from east to west.

To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, an area designated by the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the "Biosphere").

The park has 8 main gates that allow entrance to the different camps. The names of these gates are Paul Kruger, Numbi, Malelane, Crocodile Bridge, Punda Maria, Orpen, Phabeni, Phalaborwa and Pafuri.

World Heritage Sites

South Africa boasts a range of cultural, historical, archaeological and geological sites that are protected under the UNESCO World Heritage Site project. See the List of World Heritage Sites in South Africa for details.

The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to 3,482 metres (11,420 ft) in height. Its geological history lends it a distinctive character amongst the mountain ranges of the world. Geologically, the range resembles the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

Caves and cave paintings

Caves are frequent in the more easily eroded sandstone, and many have rock paintings by the Bushmen. The Drakensberg has between 35000 and 40000 works of bushman art and is the largest collection of such work in the world. Some 20,000 individual rock paintings have been recorded at 500 different cave and overhang sites between the Drakensberg Royal Natal National Park and Bushman's Neck. Due to the materials used in their production, these paintings are difficult to date, but there is anthropological evidence, including many hunting implements, that the bushman civilization existed in the Drakensberg at least 40,000 years ago, and possibly over 100,000 years ago. There are indications that "the rock art of the Drakensberg is the largest and most concentrated group of rock paintings in Africa south of the Sahara, and is outstanding both in quality and diversity of subject."

Source: Wikipedia

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