In Mandela's footsteps
Visitors to South Africa can now walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela with the launch of a new travel map detailing the key places that defined the former president's celebrated life.
Developed by South African Tourism and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, the Madiba Inspired Tourist Attractions map includes the four main provinces the anti-apartheid activist passed through in his 95 years. These include: the Eastern Cape, where Mandela was born and grew up; Gauteng, where he worked as a human rights lawyer and became instrumental in South Africa's political struggle; KwaZulu-Natal, where he was captured and the Western Cape, where Mandela was imprisoned and ultimately freed.
The map features the UNESCO World Heritage site Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned, as well as his house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, the only street in the world to have had two Nobel Peace Prize winners as residents, the other being Desmond Tutu.
The Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Mandela's childhood home, Qunu, where he was buried last December is also on the map.
South Africa's Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said Mandela not only touched the lives of millions of people, but he was also a global icon who put South Africa in the spotlight.
"This year we celebrate 20 years of democracy and freedom and we look forward to welcoming many tourists from around the world to share our story and Mandela's legacy with us," he said at an event at Cape Town's Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison), the last place Mandela was held captive before he was freed in 1990.
In 1993, the year before Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first democratically elected president, the country had 3.4 million international arrivals. In 2012, the figure rose to 13.5 million, of which close to 9.2 million were tourists.
"The numbers aside though, what has perhaps been our greatest inheritance for tourism is that Mandela has ignited people from all corners of the globe to come and experience South Africa for themselves," Van Schalkwyk added.
"It is thanks to his vision and principles that our tourism industry has grown as much as it has since our first democratic elections 20 years ago when he was elected president of South Africa.
"It is also thanks to him that the world now knows South Africa for more than just our incredible wildlife, amazing scenic beauty and excellent value for money."