South African Tourism continues to collaborate with trade partners to fuel board’s strategy of entering newer markets. Targets to penetrate into newer market segments in India, focussing on Tier 2 & 3 cities.
Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – Middle East, India and South East Asia, South African Tourism, talks to T3 about the roadmap ahead to tap India market. Excerpts from the interview:
How important is India as a source market for you?
India remains a core market for South African Tourism globally and holds much promise. Owing to our recovery efforts in the previous year we welcomed more than 50,000 Indian travellers to the Rainbow Nation. It is our 6th largest international source market and remains one of the top-3 focus markets for South African Tourism globally.
The travel trends for inbound traffic from India continue to remain encouraging and we are looking to target pre-pandemic arrival numbers this year. Mumbai has been our largest Indian source market which witnessed 64% of forward bookings for H1 2023 and we are confident of replicating similar growth in other cities. Our aim currently is to engage with our trade partners as well as consumers and work towards further increasing footfalls from India.
Marking 30 years of bilateral relations between India and South Africa, we hosted the largest-ever Indian trade delegation at this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba 2023. The delegation was led by High Commissioner of South Africa to India; Mr. Joel Sibusiso Ndebele and was in line with the tourism board’s strategy of entering newer markets. The trade show witnessed attendees from tier 2 and tier 3 cities along with existing partners who returned to India excited to promote niche offerings and newer regions that South Africa has to offer.
How do you see the potential of India outbound?
Since the resumption of economic activities India’s outbound tourism has witnessed a dramatic increase. Indians have realised the importance of unpacking to new destinations, gaining fresh experiences and exploring varied cultures. The growth in outbound tourism also propelled India as one of the largest source markets for tourism boards like South Africa. India is amongst the largest source market for outbound travellers and is expected to play a vital role in future. For instance, in India, millennials are 34% (at 440 million) of the country’s total population, making it one of the world’s largest millennial markets. Together with Gen Z, they are estimated to comprise 50 percent of India’s population by 2030. These youngsters who form a majority part of the Indian workforce are looking to invest in experiences as opposed to assets.
Additionally, we have also witnessed a huge increase in the discretionary spending capabilities of tier-2 and tier-3 feeder markets across the country. One cannot overlook India’s potential in the tourism industry and without investing in Indian market, tourism growth will be short-lived for any country. It is a market to reckon with and has the willingness to travel internationally.
What is the contribution of MICE, leisure, and ‘BLeisure’ in your overall traffic from India?
In the previous year, 1 in 4 travellers from India were motivated by MICE and business travel whereas nearly 43% were leisure travellers. The rise of digital era and increased flexibility in people’s work routines has allowed them to work from anywhere. This has further resulted in growth of Bleisure travellers around the world. South African Tourism emerged as a major beneficiary of this trend due to the country’s temperate weather conditions all-year round with graded accommodations as well as experiences across wildlife, adventures and sightseeing.
How is the situation of air connectivity to & fro India?
At present, there are many airlines that offer connecting flights with short layovers to South Africa and from India. However, as we continue to witness an increase in travellers, there is a need for non-stop flights between the two nations. Establishing direct connectivity between India and South Africa will not only help ease the journey for existing travellers but also has the potential to propel multi-fold increase in inbound traffic to South Africa. Currently, the airlines that offer connecting flights between the two nations include the likes of Emirates, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Seychelles.
What promotional and marketing activities have you planned for India market to tap the new-age travellers?
After witnessing immense success in the initial phase of the ‘More & More’ campaign, South African Tourism rolled out its second leg. For the first time ever, we roped in Indian influencers Radhika Sharma and Ankita Kumar to highlight the diversity of experiences that South Africa has to offer Indian travellers.
In line with its sustained recovery efforts and commitment to engage with the Indian market through desi or localized content, the second phase of ‘More & More’ rolled out PAN India on 25th January 2023. The campaign, divided into two phases – awareness and conversion went live across all social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This was complimented by OOH advertising across billboards in 8 cities namely Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Surat, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kochi. To engage with trade fraternity, South African Tourism participated in South Asia’s leading travel show, SATTE 2023 for the third consecutive year, followed by the 19th edition of our ‘Annual India Roadshow’ in key Indian cities of Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
Further, we hosted several closed room trade and corporate events in February across Delhi and Mumbai. Further, in February and March, we hosted MICE Think Tank across Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore to highlight our offerings for MICE tourism and business travellers where the tourism board connected directly with the decision makers responsible for their company’s corporate travel purchasing and addressed their needs.
What practices are you planning to adopt on sustainability and green fronts this year?
Travellers are gravitating more towards sustainable experiences as it allows them the chance to give back to destinations, communities, local commerce, and the planet. We have recognized this shift and are actively promoting our sustainable product offerings and ecotourism experiences, such as cycling tours, nature safaris, conservation projects, and rural experiences.By showcasing lesser-known tourist destinations and piquing traveller’s interest we have been able to disperse the inbound traffic towards all South African provinces. We have ensured that we increase our marketing efforts towards promoting new regions, also known as “Small Dorpies” to reduce the environmental burden in well-known places and increase job opportunities in these regions.