Short Experiential Tours Top Priority for SA Tourism
Hanneli Slabber, India Country Head – South African Tourism, plans to focus on smaller coastal towns as picturesque areas where travellers can pack in a lot of action into shorter time-spans.
SOUTH AFRICA is an exciting option for meetings, with more than 1700 conference venues including large convention centres located in the top urban centres i.e. Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and East London which effectively cater to events of any type. MICE groups love to explore South African wine lands, splendid wine farms, exquisite Cape Dutch architecture, luxury experiences and delectable food. With a host of interesting activities for the business traveller to indulge into, post work hours - The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town; Long Street tour; Golden Mile and many more, the South African government has recognized the need to promote and enhance its business tourism sector, to establish number of new policy initiatives aimed at expanding the MICE segment in recent years. Hanneli Slabber, India Country Head – South African Tourism, tells us more on this front.
BW Hotelier: Tell us about the special offers for MICE and leisure travellers?
Hanneli Slabber: Travellers have a wide array of packages and offers. From a 12-day Best of South Africa package, especially customised for families, which includes Cape Town, adventure capitals Oudtshoorn and Knysna and destinations like Sun City, Kruger National Park & Johannesburg. Travellers can plan their South African adventure with just a click of a button on Chalo South Africa, a unique portal especially designed for Indian travellers to choose from the best travel itineraries and deals to South Africa.
BWH: What are the marketing strategies for 2017-18 to promote in India?
HS: We are looking forward to continued support from trade in making sure that our Indian visitors have the best and most memorable experience from the minute they begin planning their trip. Keeping this in mind we are investing heavily in this market and constantly adapting to the changing consumer interests, diversifying our products and customizing our offerings to varied consumer demands. We have a lot of expectations from the Indian market and going forward our increasing engagement with trade and consumers would help us in realizing this vision. As a National Tourism Organization, South African Tourism constantly endeavours to make South Africa the destination of choice for travelers and helps them discover the country across its length and breadth by inspiring new ways, always. Travel agents will also undergo destination training and all the aspects that make South Africa amazing through a 17-city Learn SA programme slated for mid-2017. Meetings Africa, the premier business events trade show hosted annually by South African Tourism which will showcase South Africa’s diverse offering of services and products. INDABA 2017 is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar. The delegation to Indaba this year is almost 35 pax. We set the pace for the year early with our 4-city roadshow in January-February (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore).
BWH: How important is India market for SA?
HS: Indian leisure visitor numbers to South Africa have surged 21.7% during 2016 to close at an arrival figure of 95, 377 and 8th position among SA’s international source markets. The previous year saw 78,385 arrivals. 2016 also saw the overall spends from India (only in-country i.e not flights and not including attractions, hotels booked in advance; only what’s spent on the trip) crossing an astounding 1.1 billion ZAR by the end of the third quarter. We have observed an increase in demand for experiential travel i.e. there is a movement from ‘seeing’ to ‘experiencing’.
BWH: What is your prime focus market -- is it MICE, wedding, family or Corporate?
HS: South Africa makes for an ideal destination to all kinds of travellers. The destination is increasingly popular amongst families and young couples. An exciting option for meetings, with more than 1700 conference venues including large convention centres located in the top urban centres. More than 60% of holiday traffic from India is younger than 44 and repeat travel (between 2 to 5 times) has seen an overall increase over 2015.
BWH: What is your target for 2017?
HS: Our plans for the current year include sustained efforts in areas that South Africa has been focusing on in the past such as joint promotions with travel agents and customer outreach through outdoor media, television, digital, print and social. 2017 overall is set to be busy and action-packed as South African Tourism has a target of 104,000 arrivals to achieve.
BWH: Any new destination that you want to promote this year?
HS: South African Tourism’s this year is going to be focussed on smaller coastal towns as picturesque areas where travellers can pack in a lot of action into shorter time-spans. We will train travel agents and also create demand and awareness for these smaller towns in the consumer space. The thought is to get them to add on one or more of these unexplored locations to their regular itinerary. Our focus for the year is to push towns like Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth & Drakensberg.
BWH: What are the kind of trends observed in Indian traveller?
HS: Popular South African Provinces among Indian travellers include Gauteng (61.5%) which is also an entry point to many provinces, Western Cape (33.6%) and Kwazulu Natal (20.3%). Overall spends from India crossed an astounding ZAR 1.1 billion by the end of the third quarter and average spend per leisure traveller was placed at INR 590,000 (approx. ZAR 150,000) indicating that destination South Africa attracts a variety of pocket-sizes. We are also witnessing an increased preference amongst travellers for self-drives, and older people undertaking adventure activities. The average number of nights spent by Indian tourists in South Africa is now at 11 days for holiday and 19 days for business travellers. For Indian travellers, holidays have gone beyond the passé stay in a beach-side resort followed by local city tours. They are increasingly being driven by a need to have varied experiences like explore local culture, indulge in art and history of the place and meet new people. For example, if they are visiting Cape Town – they look at splitting their time between the main city and the surrounding Garden Route which is home to picturesque towns like Knysna, Oudtshoorn and Plettenberg Bay. We are also seeing a development from tier II markets. With an office in Mumbai, a few years ago most of our arrivals came from Mumbai but now we’re seeing more geographical scope. Today, Mumbai stands at about 40%, Delhi at 30% and markets like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata showing between 5% and 7% contribution. Amritsar, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Vadodara and Pune are also starting to show up on our graphs.
BWH: Can you throw some light on the hotel inventory?
HS: According to news sources, South Africa has 16 large projects in construction phase. One can expect about 4,000 to 5,000 rooms from these in the near future.
BWH: How important do you think technology is for promoting tourism?
HS: The world is getting smaller and the way travel is undertaken, is rapidly changing. We have seen an explosion of technology across the globe – in India we have seen data usage increasing by 500 % over the last year – with a 60 % decline in price. Technology has taken the centre stage in all industries – especially in tourism. Today, people decide where to go next based on someone’s facebook/ instagram posts – thus, technology helps influence their destination choices. Selfies & check-ins at popular places have also become an integral part of holidays, and thus, are instrumental in promotions by tourism boards. Moreover, it has been established that 89% of digital promotions are consumed via the phone. The online world has become a place where we not just look for information, but we look for inspiration, for adventure, for beauty – and all these senses play into desires to travel.
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