Sthembiso Dlamini, Acting CEO & COO, South African Tourism shares her views about the trends in tourism sector and strategies for India market
South Africa is aggressively looking to tap the robust Indian outbound with its lucrative offerings. The destination recently organised its maiden virtual roadshow in India. 99 South African suppliers were part of the trade delegation who exhibited their products and services in India.
South African Tourism India has identified certain key focus areas for the forthcoming year. These include aggressively promoting their new regions, building on the destination’s position as the adventure capital of the world, providing increased value for money itineraries and catering to niche traveller segments like runners, bikers, sports enthusiasts etc. The tourism board is also hoping to welcome a large number of Indian cricket fans into the destination during India’s Test tour of South Africa in December 2021.
How has the tourism sector in south Africa reshaped? Do you see a domestic trend or has international traffic started?
In terms of our recovery plan, our predictions are that the sector will recover domestically first and then international. The second layer of the recovery is that the Africa continent will play a key role in driving the recovery and we certainly see that in South Africa. We have never stopped international travel and people were allowed to enter South Africa even in 2020, only negative PCR test was required. The tourism sector in general has started to open up, people are looking at outbound travel. South Africa is one of the destinations which is surely in the consideration when it comes to Indian outbound.
Could you share overall expectations from the tourism industry over the next year?
For 2021, using the Oxford Econometric model, we will receive 2.6 million international travellers. This figure is inclusive of rest of the continent. We are dealing with the pandemic and we don’t know what we don’t know. We still have a long way to return to our 2019 numbers that was around 10 million international travellers. In terms of other predictions that we are monitoring closely is that globally the tourism industry is set to recover by end of 2023-early 2024, where we will see a lot of tourism activities happening around the globe.
We have started preparing and organised ourselves with norms and standards to welcome these travellers. we are also seeing that travellers are looking at wellness and outdoor destinations along with adventure activities. Fortunately, our USP has always been wide open spaces, scenic beauty, adventure and wellness. We have to upgrade these products and be competitive in the market. We are ready to receive the new travellers.
Where does India stands in your overall scheme of things?
India is a very critical market for us as we have barely scratched the surface in India. With such a huge population to tap we are barely receiving a small number of travellers from India. There is a lot of similarities in between both the nations and we can actually get in the millions. In the next five years, we can triple the numbers. Pre-covid we identified India, china, Nigeria as top markets to push for growth. We have been improving visa processing, looking at various schemes to ease the entry of travellers, increasing air capacity. In next couple of years, we will be yielding the results and we will be further implementing more effective strategies.
We understand that easy accessibility is a key consideration when planning travel. With that in mind, we want to assure Indian travellers, corporates and our trade partners that we are actively pursuing opportunities to initiate direct flights from India to South Africa. We also intend to make good on our promise to roll-out e-visas for the India market very soon.
How will you tweak your strategy to tap the Indian millennials?
Technology has accelerated during the pandemic. One of the strategies especially for India is to tap the millennial travellers. We know that millennials make up 700 million of the total population. These are the digitally savvy travellers. Our key strategies in India will be digital in approach which ensures targeted marketing along with hyper-personalised strategy. Digital marketing is here to stay, and we will significantly invest into this segment.