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SAT India Imparts Insights on India to South African Travel Trade

South African Tourism India recently hosted a mega-Conclave, featuring 7 thought leaders from trade to be prepared for drawing visitors from India once borders reopen. The aim of the virtual Conclave was to arm South African travel partners with insider knowledge and a holistic view of the Indian traveller segment, which is the 8th largest international source market for South Africa.  

It also sought to allow South African travel trade a peek into the future by helping them understand the dynamically transforming distribution system, thus enabling them to adjust strategy and proactively address the emerging needs of the Indian traveller.

The interactive, two-way session had 120+ South African trade in attendance, with conversations ranging from the future of travel, evolving consumer behavior and trends, to emerging Indian source markets and the rapidly changing aviation, hospitality and media landscapes in India.

The panel moderated by Rohan Kanchan, Managing Director – Strategy & Advisory, Weber Shandwick, included: Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – Middle East, India and South East Asia, South African Tourism; Manpreet Bindra, Brand Leader, FCM Travel Solutions; Tigist Eshetu, Regional Director – Indian Sub-continent, Ethiopian Airlines; Mayur Oberoi, Sr. Vice President, Yatra.com; Jai Prakash Thondak, Vice President & Global Head, nThrive Global Solutions, Kamal Gill, Director, OptiMICE Events and Ruchika Vyas, Sr. Vice President – Client Experience, Weber Shandwick.

Pradeep Saboo, Chairman & Managing Partner, Guideline Travels addressed the audience briefly on his personal dealing with the virus.

According to the expert panel, as Indians shift from group travel to FIT / family travel in a major way, packages and itineraries will need to be highly tailored and customized. Experience-seeking millennials, HNIs and the family-oriented middle-class segments are anticipated to be the driving force behind leisure travel recovery, while MICE travel can be expected to recover early next year albeit with smaller group sizes.

India will remain a key focus area for South African Tourism in a post-Covid era, and the tourism board is leaving no stone unturned rebuild aspiration and consumer confidence in the destination. From January to December 2019, the destination welcomed 95,621 Indian visitors – a 2.3% YoY increase.

“Being the second largest outbound traveller market in the world, India holds great potential. As we develop and package experiential products for this market, it is imperative that the South African travel industry understands the evolving thought process of the post-Covid Indian traveller. We have maintained that a greater level of collaboration is required within the supply chain, even if it means cross-border communication and deeper associations amongst provincial and city tourism boards. This Conclave is a crucial step in building a robust system that has well-thought through and researched strategy, as we prepare to travel again,” Nkani stated.

“We are pulling out all stops to ensure we engage meaningfully with the Indian consumer as well as our trade partners in India and South Africa. The fact that we’ve invested efforts in educating and training 4000+ Indian trade agents, through the lockdown period, is testament to this”, she continued.

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