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​US tour operators fond of Joburg

What struck me most about Johannesburg was the friendliness of the people, said Jacqui Overton, who formed part of a 50-strong delegation of US tour operators on a three-day visit to the city.

The tour operators were in Johannesburg over the weekend on the final leg of their 10-day USA Trade Mega Trip to South Africa, organised by the New York office of SA Tourism, South African Airways and Thompson Africa. Local tour operators, hoteliers and other stakeholders had the opportunity to network with the delegation.

Speaking during a gala dinner hosted by Joburg Tourism, the City of Johannesburg's tourism entity at Emoyeni Conference Centre in Parktown on Sunday night, Overton said she was particularly impressed by the delegation's visit to Soweto. "Seeing and going into the house where [former President] Nelson Mandela once lived was an emotional experience for me. At some point, I found myself shaking," said Overton.

The delegation was also taken on a tour of Lillie's Farm, where many of the Rivonia trialists were rounded up and detained in the late 1950s.

City of Joburg's Tourism Group Head, Nabintu Petsana, gave the delegation an overview of the City's important tourism offerings. Petsana also highlighted the accolades the City had achieved over the past two years, including recognition by MasterCard Global Cities Index, which last year rated Johannesburg as the most visited city in Africa for the second year running.

She said the dinner was aimed at understanding the tour operators' needs and to inform members of the delegation about a wide and diverse range of options available to them.

"We hope they will take the information to their clients and come back for an extended stay," said Petsana.a