South African travellers are pretty au fait with London, at least when it comes to sport, history and geography, but more than a few will need to consult their guidebooks when identifying some of the city’s iconic landmarks.
A British Airways’ survey, which polled 4 000 European and South African travellers to gauge their knowledge about London, also found that South Africans have a quirky nostalgic streak.
Just over 40% of them thought that Coco Chanel’s logo is displayed on Westminster lampposts as a romantic gesture.
But when it comes to sport the South Africans are top of their game. Nearly 74% correctly identified Arsenal as a London-based football club; more than any of their European counterparts. Similarly nearly 66% named Stamford Bridge as Chelsea’s home ground, with only the Swedes coming close as the next most knowledgeable at 61%.
The survey also revealed that while Saffas may have a sentimental streak about French fashion designers, it’s by no means easy to pull the wool over their eyes. Although more than half of the Italians surveyed thought London had the world’s highest rainfall, the majority of South Africans knew otherwise. They were also clear that London’s busses aren’t red because it’s the Queen’s favourite colour.
They really excelled at some of the history questions with nearly 86% naming the London Underground as the oldest underground railway. Geography was also a strong suit and 84% named the Thames as the river that runs through London.
Unfortunately recognition of architecture and landmarks was disappointing and in future South African visitors will need to apply themselves and pay more attention on sightseeing tours if they are to improve. Only 40% recognised Westminster Abbey, 30% St Paul’s and a shocking 16% Buckingham Palace. Marks for identifying modern architecture were even worse, with only 5% able to point out The Shard.
“For people who live in another hemisphere, it’s incredible how much South African travellers know about London compared to their European counterparts,” says Edward Frost, British Airways’ commercial manager for South and East Africa.
“What the survey did show is that no matter how well you think you know London there’s always plenty more to learn see and experience.”
South Africans looking to brush up on their knowledge of London landmarks can take advantage of British Airways’ spring sale. Seats to London are on offer from R10 478. The sale is on now and runs until 19 September. To book visit www.britishairways.co.za
British Airways flies twice daily to London from Johannesburg and offers the only year-round direct flights from Cape Town to London.