Netflix international viewers are three times more likely to visit SA after watching SA-based shows

By Larry Claasen

A study by streaming service Netflix found that its international subscribers were 3.1 times more likely to make South Africa their number one travel destination after watching local shows like My Octopus Teacher and Blood & Water. 

The Cultural Affinity survey was conducted by the streaming service among subscribers from Canada, Germany, the US, the UK, Brazil and France.

SA’s landmarks and monuments attracted views in the nature documentary My Octopus Teacher and the drama Blood & Water, while the country’s creative scene drew in viewers of the comedy show Seriously Single

The survey also found that these viewers also identified more closely with the country’s culture and were 5.6 times more likely to want to learn Afrikaans. 

Viewers related to the stories and characters in these and other South African productions. “They saw themselves reflected in those stories. One US viewer said they felt people in South Africa have the same aspirations and life experiences as those in their country,” says Netflix Director of Public Policy for sub-Saharan Africa, Shola Sanni.

The survey, which was released at the  Africa’s Travel & Tourism Summit last week, showed that SA could still be an attractive destination for foreign visitors after international travel took a hard knock as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s also comes as good news ahead of the December holiday season, especially since major travel markets like the US are starting to relax travel restrictions to and from their countries to SA.

The survey was a result of the South African Tourism body and Netflix agreeing, in March 2021, to explore joint opportunities that looked at showcasing South African-made stories that, in turn, could drive international arrivals to the country.

At the time South African Tourism was looking for creative ways to retain the country as an attractive travel option to global travellers.


Apart from the survey, the partnership also saw the creation of the the Made in South Africa collection on it its platform that has 209 million subscribers in 90 countries.

This sees the bundling together of shows and films such as My Octopus Teacher, Blood & Water, JIVA!, How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding, Trippin’ with the Kandasamys, I Am All Girls, Queen Sono, Kings of Joburg, Santana, Riding with Sugar, and Seriously Single. 

“It is about partnering to showcase the best of the local culture. It is about South Africans telling their stories to the world. There is a connection that happens when people view content and stories on Netflix. What we found is this power to be a cultural ambassador for South Africa and the continent,” says Sanni.

Aside from promoting tourism to SA, the partnership would also help build the soft power base for South Africa and the continent and export the African way of life, says South African Tourism chief marketing officer, Mzilikazi Themba Khumalo. “It is so the world can perceive the way we are talented, young and fresh and export the whole tapestry from a cultural standpoint,” Khumalo says.

He notes that destinations can serve as backdrops for films so as to attract viewers to those places. “As a tourism body we need to have a backdrop for a story that Netflix wants to tell. If you watch American movies shot in Washington DC, shots of the White House, The Capitol and other key icons in the city are shown. They have built the iconography in the film to project the power of the destination.”

FAME Week Africa

FAME Week Africa

FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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