ONE ABOVE with marketing support from IRIS REPS conducted a South Africa destination and product familiarization session with 100+ key travel trade from across India, via a "South Africa Beyond Normal" webinar. This session was the first of a two-part series, with the second training session following closely.
Irshad Dadan, Group Director and COO, One Above said, “This exercise proved to be an important two-way communication street, allowing travel agents and tour operators a virtual first-hand feel of destination South Africa. It also enabled South African Tourism and various Province representatives who previously had limited-to-no access to Indian travel trade, establish a connect, interact and promote new regions in an effort to drive Indian traveller traffic.”
On the panel were Mputle Dikobe, Trade and Partnership Manager, Gauteng Tourism Authority, Janine Levinia Muthusamy, Marketing and Communications Manager, Constitutional Hill, Thabisile Mthethwa, Regional Manager: Americas, Asia and Australasia, Tourism KwaZulu Natal, Sma Dlamini, Business Events Manager, Company Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, Susan Wilson, Experiential Marketing Manager for the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head for MEISEA, South African Tourism.
Authorities from South African Tourism and various South African Provinces interacted with agents and provided fresh insights into Indian traveller demands and trends observed in destination, especially with regards Indian FITs, larger leisure groups and MICE travellers. The webinar also intended to share various ideas on re-packaging South African itineraries by ONE ABOVE – South Africa DMC to suit travellers in a post-COVID era.
According to experts on the panel, aspiration and need for travel exists now more than ever. Destinations can expect to witness a ‘revenge travel’ trend from consumer groups within the 25 to 45-year age bracket – these consumers have the spending capacity, as well as a strong intent to travel, albeit locally at first. South Africa, with its abundance of natural beauty, wildlife, beaches and 3000+ adventure activities is well positioned to cater to these new consumer needs.
As border restrictions gradually ease off, travellers are expected to seek out destinations which are well-connected and offer immersive experiences amongst nature, as opposed to enclosed spaces like museums, spa and family entertainment centers. There is the need to create, package and sell experiential products and inspirational journeys, with a heavy focus on local, organic experiences. Geographies will need to be widened in order to avoid mass tourism.
Nkani said, “On behalf of South African Tourism and Provinces on this panel, I thank all our trade partners for their continued support. We look forward to working even more closely with you as we re-model our product offerings and take concrete measures to inspire and rebuild consumer confidence. These are challenging times for the travel & tourism industry at large. However, this is also the time for resilience, for creativity, and for innovation. The Indian travel fraternity has showcased great resourcefulness and ingenuity; we have no doubt that victory awaits us on the other side. Until then, we stand in solidarity, with you and with the rest of the industry, offering practical support and hope.”
South Africa is looking to reopen and restore travel in a phased approach. The shift will be gradual, with emphasis laid on hyperlocal travel once restrictions lift, extending to domestic travel, and then on to regional and international travel.
The government is currently working with airlines and ancillary services, hotels, and other partners down the supply chain to identify effective standard protocols to put in place once South Africa is open for international travel again. In the meanwhile, it has put in place various sustenance measures, to help local tourism businesses stay afloat, with a special focus on small and medium business. To this effect, the Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million available to assist SMMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.
South African Tourism continues to work together with all tourism stakeholders in implementing a set of interventions so that the sector can quickly recover from this temporary setback. These will include readiness for the rollout of the e-visa system, resolving the challenges around the issuance of licenses for tour operators, ensuring that all our campaigns globally and domestically and associated enabling partnerships are in place and ready to be rolled out.