Tourists won points for South Africa arms deal

All Scandinavian tourists landing in South Africa have helped to sell Saab fighter planes to the South African air force.

The 2001 deal was part of a process known as defence offsetting, in which countries’ arms purchases are linked to investments made in the purchasing countries, Dagens Nyheter reports.

As part of Saab’s deal to sell its JAS fighter planes to South Africa, four Swedish charter companies were given financial help from the Swedish arms giant to market South African, and particularly Port Elizabeth, as a tourist destination.

The original deal was contingent on South African Airlines’ direct flights from Copenhagen to Port Elizabeth. The subsequent decision to close this route led to the deal being modified so that every extra Scandinavian tourist visiting South Africa between 2001 and 2011 would win points for the Swedish arms deal.

“Saab made a big effort, and given that the the direct flight to Port Elizabeth never happened, we can’t find out who is going there,” said Sipho Zikode, spokesman for the defence offsetting programme at the South African Department of Trade and Industry, to Dagens Nyheter.

“We are therefore counting all Scandinavians who land at one of the international airport,” he said.

The points will continue to be counted until 2011.

By autumn 2005, 50,000 Scandinavian tourists worth an estimated $218 million had been counted.