South Africa pushes for taking Indians beyond key tourist hubs, says Alpa Jani

One of the ongoing key focus areas for South Africa tourism is to create adequate awareness around some of the lesser explored destinations, beyond key tourist cities of Cape Town, Jo’Burg, Durban and Pretoria, says Alpa Jani, Acting Hub-Head, MEISEA – South African Tourism. Also, despite facing water shortage, Cape Town is open for business and tourism. Excerpts from the interview:

Alpa Jani
Acting Hub-Head, MEISEA – South African Tourism

Cape Town is an important city and hosts high percentage of Indian outbound. Unfortunately, it has been reeling under water crisis on an unprecedented scale. How is SA Tourism combating the negative publicity around it, and the crisis in general?

It’s important to note that Cape Town is open for business and tourism. We would like to reiterate that there is adequate water for tourists’ essential daily needs and no tourism activity has been impacted.

Water is a precious resource the world over. Many leading nations including South Africa consciously propagate conservation and mindful usage of water through various

sustainable tourism practices. We at South African Tourism are focusing on Water Wise Tourism and our ‘Save Like a Local’ campaign encourages tourists to take onus and not needlessly waste water.

We understand that adventure tourism is big among Indian outbound travellers. Are there any new segments that are finding traction among Indian outbound?

Along with adventure, we find that wildlife is big among Indian outbound travellers visiting the destination.

With over 300 adventure activities and counting, South Africa is undoubtedly the adventure capital of the world. The country has options across world-class climbing, surfing, diving, hiking, horseback safaris, mountain biking, river rafting – and just about any other extreme sport you can name, and all supported by dedicated and authorized operators.

Indian travellers, we have noticed, are very activity driven while travelling. Hence one of our key focus areas this year is to go beyond the immensely popular Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and surrounds and create awareness about new destinations such as Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth, the Drakensberg region and the Panorama Route within the consumer and trade spaces. These are picturesque areas where travelers can pack in a lot of action into shorter time-spans.

In terms of market specifics, what are some of your key source markets within India? What are some plans around furthering market outreach in the near future?

Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, Bangalore and West Bengal are among our key source markets. In 2017, Mumbai contributed 37% to the overall Indian arrivals to South Africa while Delhi was at 22%, Gujarat at 11%, Bangalore at 8% and West Bengal at 7%.

We are focusing on increased development from mini-metros and tier II markets in India like Hyderabad, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Vadodara and Pune.

South African Tourism had, some time ago, rolled out an extensive program to educate Indian travel agents about South Africa and its offerings. How has it impacted the outbound?

Learn South Africa (Learn SA) is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by South African Tourism in 2017. The 2017 version of Learn SA had new, exciting and useful sessions that aimed to help ensure a profitable South Africa business and repeat customers for travel agents who attended the training. To further motivate the agents, also on offer for the first time ever was a unique chance of being invited to participate in marketing activities supported by South African Tourism.

The sessions were structured to ensure that travelers enjoy many new, exciting, tailor-made itinerary options as a direct result. Since an average Indian books less than 2 month in advance, we highlighted capacity issues in Cape Town in November/ December. It helped the agents market activities beyond Cape Town, on the Garden Route. We also gave special attention to smaller towns like Dullstroom, Hermanus, Knysna, Oudtshroon.

The program also helped the tour operators to better plan their South African products by showcasing the enormous amount of options and variety that they can include while product planning, thus helping build stronger relationships with customers. As a result of Learn SA, we also witnessed an increase in demand for new geographies in the destination.

Our efforts resulted in more than 1810 travel agents being trained across 17 markets. The training of trade agents has helped better sell the destination and our India outbound numbers for 2017 bear testament to the fact. This year we hope to surpass our achievements of the last year – which with 97,921 arrivals (Jan – Dec 2017) was a great year for us.

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