South Africa is making a splash in Taiwan with a week-long tourism, trade and investment campaign held in conjunction with its 12th Freedom Day anniversary.
"(Yesterday marked) the celebration of 12 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa. Indeed, we are proud of our achievements and we wish to highlight what makes South Africa - in the words of our President - a 'Land of Hope,'" Petrus Meyer, representative of the Liaison Office of South Africa in Taiwan, said at the launch of "Proudly South African Week." The event is being held at the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei.
"It is often said that South Africa is a nation of extraordinary people, many of whom are determined to make a difference. This event is our contribution in making a difference in the lives of people both in South Africa and Taiwan," Meyer added.
The week-long celebration features a nine-day culinary festival and a musical program at the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei's azie and Brasserie restaurants, a Western Cape tourism seminar, an investment forum, an African Union seminar, and a Standard Bank conference. South African Airways is also celebrating its membership into the Star Alliance next Friday.
An exhibition on slavery in South Africa will also be held, Meyer said.
South Africa's export champions - from diamonds and premium wines to gourmet beverages and posh cars - are also being exhibited at the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei.
"Some of our wines are taking the competitive world market by storm by using innovative marketing strategies and hands-on promotion. Bellevue Wine Estates has joined us for this promotion in marketing their excellent wines," Meyer said.
"Rooibos tea, a uniquely South African tea ... is increasingly becoming popular in all corners of the world. Appletiser, which recently launched their products in Taiwan, has indeed become an international brand."
The official also boasted that South Africa has "never been better and has seen unprecedented growth over the last 12 years."
Standard Bank of South Africa is one such success story, he indicated.
"Standard Bank of South Africa ... is the biggest South African company to make it into the Forbes Global 2000," said Meyer, adding that the financial institution grabbed the 285th slot on the Forbes list.
Even South Africa's vehicle sales in March 2006 hit an all-time high, he continued.
"Many may not be aware that leading car manufacturers have massive plants in South Africa for export to many parts of the world. BMW is one example. The '3 series BMW' that is on display (at the Regent's azie restaurant) was manufactured in South Africa," said Meyer.
South Africa also remains the world's top producer of quality diamonds, he added.
Tourism is one of the country's top revenue-generators. According to Meyer, South Africa drew six million tourists last year, making his country one of the "hottest" travel destinations today.
"With world-class hotel facilities - like Protea Hotels, a leading hotel group in South Africa - many visitors regard South Africa as a 'World in One Country,'" said the official.
Chefs from Protea's properties are giving local foodies a taste of South Africa at the Regent's azie restaurant. Three culinary masters - Nicky Gibbs, George Peter Poulos, and Nicholas Mills - are serving up savory numbers from ostrich fillets with sweet onions and chili marmalade to Cape Malay prawn curry served with pilaf rice and sambal.
According to the Regent, five set menus are currently being offered at azie. Prices start at NT$900 per person. A number of South African appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts are also being served at the Brasserie's festival buffet. On weekdays, lunch costs NT$700 and dinner is priced at NT$850. On weekends, lunch and dinner cost NT$850 and NT$940 respectively. Prices are subject to a 10 percent service charge.
DJ Vorster, a professional South African folk guitarist, will also be performing at the restaurant. For reservations, call (02) 2523-8000 ext. 3157 (azie) or 3871 (Brasserie).