A South African travel blogger who has visited Türkiye 33 times is promoting the country globally, urging others to visit and praising its hospitality.
“I’m an avid traveler of Türkiye and I love the country. I’m asked over and over again, why do I keep returning? Thirty-three trips later, I can tell you it’s the hospitality, the kindness and delicious food of the country,” Marion Smith told Anadolu Agency.
Smith has visited more than 40 cities in Türkiye in the past 10 years and she is often invited by the Turkish Embassy in South Africa to narrate her experience to audiences during events.
“There is a reason for everyone to visit Türkiye, whether it’s one of the 491 blue flag beaches to relax on, or to see the world’s only blue flag lake, the Van Lake," said Smith, who publishes the Everything Turkish magazine.
Smith has collected photographs from numerous travels to Türkiye which she recently published into a photo book.
This year, the Turkish cultural center in Johannesburg, Yunus Emre Institute, sponsored Smith and sketch artist Alex Maswanganyi to travel to Türkiye on a project, Türkiye through the eyes of two South Africans.
Maswanganyi sketched 10 photographs taken by Smith that were exhibited in several cities, including Istanbul, Antalya, and Ankara.
“Turkish people were excited to see the art drawn by Maswanganyi and they wanted to learn more about the South African artist and how he got involved with Türkiye. We are very fortunate to have done this project and appreciate the kindness and hospitality of the Turkish people,” said Smith.
Their works were also showcased to hundreds who attended Türkiye’s 99th Republic Day celebrations at the residence of the Turkish ambassador in the South African capital of Pretoria.
Smith uses her travel blog, magazine and events to promote Türkiye in South Africa.
“I’m the unofficial public relations officer of Türkiye,” she joked.
Thousands of South Africans visit Türkiye annually
Türkiye is steadily becoming a tourist destination of choice for South Africans.
About 50,000 South African tourists visited Türkiye between January and September of 2022, making it one of the favorite holiday destinations, Aysegul Kandas, the Turkish ambassador to Pretoria, told Anadolu Agency.
Kandas said there is also a growing interest in Turks coming to South Africa for tourism.
“We are currently working to increase the number of tourists going back and forth through our various cultural activities,” she said.
Kandas said some cultural activities the embassy and Yunus Emre Institute are involved in include organizing photo and art exhibitions and the promotion of Turkish cuisine and films which draw huge interest among South Africans.
She also noted that Türkiye is becoming more popular among South Africans because of Turkish TV series being aired on local television.
“These TV series are playing a big role in bringing South Africa and Türkiye closer despite the physical distance,” she said, adding that people who watch the series often want to find out more about the country, its people, culture and the food, hence the number of tourists is growing.
Kandas said her country has also increased the number of scholarships for students applying to study in Türkiye.
“This year we gave out 13 scholarships for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies, the highest number until now,” she said.
The ambassador also said that foreign students who study in Türkiye eventually become brand ambassadors when they complete their studies and return home.
“They tell people about life in Türkiye, attractions, opportunities and eventually people get interested in visiting,” she said.
Kandas said economic relations between the two countries are at their best with the trade volume growing every year.
“By the end of 2021, the trade volume reached $2 billion, and in August 2022 it climbed to $2.4 billion.
“We now expect the total trade volume to reach $3 billion by the beginning of next year,” she said.
Kandas said there are 70 Turkish companies operating in South Africa, and 66 South African companies operating in Türkiye.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.