Bloemfontein, South Africa - field of sunflowers w
A field of sunflowers near Bloemfontein. (Getty)
  • The Free State is South Africa's second least visited province, and its tourism authority says its brand is going nowhere.
  • Now it is looking for help with "extreme measures" to meet targets to massively increase tourism over the next 12 months through destination marketing.
  • Avid travellers just need to be exposed to the cheap offers and outstanding service the province already offers, its tourism authority says.
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The Free State is planning "extreme measures" to lure tourists to the province – South Africa's second least visited – over the next 12 months.

The Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority this week formally started to solicit proposals from advertising agencies to help put it on the map through destination marketing over the course of the year.

The targets are big, and the current situation grim, the request for proposals shows.

To lure an extra 1.1 million visitors per year by 2030, it "would need to implement extreme measures that will promote and market the province," the authority told prospective bidders.

"As the province we need to upscale the marketing and promotion endeavour to ensure that the province is on the digital spaces."

In one initiative, which tried to establish "Big 5 Routes" in the Free State, the province has since 2013 "relied on brochures and maps as a form of advertising".

Free State Big 5 routes

Now, it reckons, it might be time to look into social media – though it would also like some print advertising.

Foreign visitors to the province come from mainly neighbouring countries, Europe, and the USA. But it particularly wants to grow its domestic tourism arrivals, the Free State says.

To do so it hopes to persuade avid travellers "through lucrative cost saving packages or outstanding service excellence offerings that are found around the province", while also targeting "young adults entering the labour market or the elderly who have cash and need to spend few rand to spoil themselves for those long hard-working years".

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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