The first 20 tourism practitioners to be taught how to speak Mandarin in a recently launched Department of Tourism programme passed with an average mark of 88%.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom presented them with certificates on Tuesday before they head off to China for three weeks.
The Dept of Tourism @Tourism_gov_za tweeted: “The simple language exchanges will go a long way in making sure that we receive more Chinese tourists in this country: Min @Derek_Hanekom”.
Hanekom posted on Twitter: “They have just completed 12 weeks of Mandarin learning. Average mark was 88%! You should hear them speak Chinese!”
Department media liaison Praveen Naidoo also tweeted a photo of his boss congratulating them: “@Derek_Hanekom thanks the Mandarin teachers for training frontline tourism staff in language and culture of China.”
The programme was officially launched in September‚ but has its roots in 2013‚ when the South African government signed an agreement to cooperate with the People's Republic of China in the tourism sector.
This gave rise to the partnership to train locals in Mandarin in order to improve the service provided to Chinese tourists to South Africa.
According to the Chinese Embassy‚ 58 000 tourists from the Asian nation visited South Africa in the first half of 2016.
Addressing the launch in September‚ Chinese deputy ambassador Li Song said the relationship with South Africa was growing and at its best levels ever. Song congratulated the trainees on their journey and said it would have value in their live going into the future.
"You will not regret all the time and energy that you put in the learning of the Chinese language. Your language skills will pave a way for a lot of opportunities in the future."
Song added that there were other language partnerships with the departments in police‚ international relations‚ and basic education.