South African Tourism kick-started 2019 with its biggest travel trade initiative in India – the 16th edition of their Annual Roadshow. The roadshow intends to capitalize on the strong potential consumer demand in India in order to surpass the target of 100,000 Indian visitors to South Africa in the current year. Recognizing the evolving demands of the Indian traveller and in continued efforts to enable trade partners, the 56-member South African trade delegation, that included 6 new SMMEs, reiterated the tourism board’s emphasis on expanding the destination and product offering. In addition to experiences, representatives from accommodation establishments, destination management companies, airlines, tourism associations display their products and engage Indian travel and trade partners.
For the period of January to September 2018, Mumbai contributed 45% to the overall Indian arrivals to South Africa while Delhi was at 17.4%, Chennai at 7.7% and Kolkata at 1.6%. Over 1300 Indian travel agents attended the interactive roadshow sessions to better synergize and address the ever evolving demands of the Indian traveller.
“Our brand research shows that Indian travellers prefer South Africa as a holiday destination, due to the memorability and value for money it offers. We will continue to drive this demand by introducing a wider geographical area, thus allowing us to introduce new experiences. We remain focused on customizing our engagements and product offerings to suit the unique requirements from each of our target regions within India,” said Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head, MEISEA, South African Tourism.
With iconic cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban as draw cards, the tourism board is growing efforts to promote the engaging surrounds of newer regions like Stellenbosch, George, Simon’s Town, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth and East London in the current year. In 2018, there was a higher uptake in the demand for and travel to new and off-beat provinces like Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Free State.
In response to the need for introducing new experiences, the tourism board will lay special emphasis on promoting the diversity of activities and experiences. With Indian travellers consuming the highest adventure activities outside of South Africans, the board will deepen focus to promote the 3000+ adventure activities that South Africa offers including off-beat activities like Long Tom Toboggan rides, Fatbike Tours, Mountain Boarding and Walking Safaris along with popular activities like abseiling and paragliding.
Along with building, cementing and sustaining two-way tourism ties between India and South Africa, the brand is also seeking new and creative ways to enhance the destination’s USP. “We are keen on optimizing our collaboration with complementary African nations to enhance our value proposition. In particular, we have been exploring partnerships with Mauritius and Seychelles that will enable us to co-promote both destinations,” said Neliswa Nkani.
While consolidating its position in wildlife, adventure and cultural offerings, the destination will also target the niche wedding market, for which South African Tourism has seen an upswing in enquiries. In order to arrive at this, the destination is engaging aggressively to educate trade partners about the plethora of world-class facilities, distinctive attractions, unforgettable and value for money experiences available in South Africa.
Speaking about the importance of India, as they unveiled the brand strategy, South African Tourism, Hub Head, Neliswa Nkani said, “As India plays a key role in achieving our 5-in-5 target, which includes 4 million international visitors, we are now looking to double our marketing efforts and enhancing destination marketing support within the region. While we are already widely known for our wildlife offerings, the 5-point strategy for 2019 will ensure that we incorporate certain measures and leverage partnerships to position and cement ourselves as the Adventure Capital of the world, while building preference as a wedding destination for the India market.”
South African Tourism has been working closely with the Consulate General of South Africa in Mumbai to introduce an updated visa procedure. In an effort to ease visa procedures, they are collaborating to accredit select travel agents and tour operators to allow fast-tracking visa applications from preferred partners. At present, they ensure a quick turnaround time of 5-7 days which is a lot shorter than some of their competitors.
This year the Roadshow covered Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata paving way for interaction to allow an exchange of detailed market insights and Indian traveller specific trends, thus allowing both partners to deliver and serve better. An unusually high demand for adventure activities in comparison to other markets, big-five wildlife sightings, requests for private kitchens and Indian chefs, and vegetarian food are some of the key behaviours observed by the South African suppliers.
With 86,405 arrivals as of November 2018, the destination board shared a positive outlook for the Indian market, noting that as of June 2018, total spend by Indian travellers in South Africa had increased by 20% and that there was an upswing in the average length of stay (+7.7%) and total bed nights (+4%).