What’s new for 2017/2018?
The diversity of tourism offerings in South Africa is at an all-time high. From cosmopolitan city centers, to the wide open spaces of the bushveld to the vibrant townships, a holiday in South Africa will delight all travelers. Especially hot are our adventure and safari experiences, as well as the culinary and wine scene. Art and design has also become an increasingly popular part of holiday itineraries with exciting openings like The Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, which is the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art. There are also wonderful art walking tours with The Maboneng Township Arts Experience, that give travelers a glimpse into local homes turned art galleries in the townships just outside of Johannesburg and Cape Town.
What trends are you seeing among travelers and travel agents?
Travelers are looking for opportunities to engage with local communities. Whether it's soaking up the sun on a beach in Durban, enjoying the wineries of Franschhoek or meeting the local people in Soweto, today more than ever, the idea of authenticity is important to travelers. People want to be among the first of their peer group to explore new frontiers and are more comfortable doing things they may not have done before.
First time visitors to the country remain our largest market segment, with an increasing number of millennials coming to the destination as well. We want to underscore the idea that South Africa is not a bucket list destination, but somewhere you can visit again and again with new experiences to be had with each time. Multigenerational travel is also quite popular in South Africa as well particularly because our wide variety of offerings means there is something for everyone and no one gets bored.
What is the biggest challenge for travel agents selling South Africa? What advice would you give them?
Many Americans perceive South Africa as an expensive destination, but the truth is our destination presents incredible “value for money,” owed in part to an especially favorable exchange rate. Your client’s US dollar goes a long way in South Africa right now. Beyond that, savvy travel pros will discover that there are experiences and accommodation options for all budget levels and packaging those three and four star lodges and hotels with South Africa’s in-demand tours and attractions will create attractive price points for their clients.
The issue of time is also often seen as a challenge. The average American traveler may not think they have enough vacation time to choose a South African holiday. This is a perception we are working to change by highlighting the direct flight options from several gateway cities here in the States, in addition to making sure that travelers understand that the many inspiring and enriching experiences they can have in South Africa will also offer substantial value for time. And of course, if they’re not able to fit everything in on their first visit, we are ready and willing to welcome them back again.
Lastly we have heard from travel pros that they do occasionally struggle to sell the destination with confidence if they haven’t yet visited themselves. To those travel pros we would say that you can arm yourself with as much information as possible by visiting our website and taking our destination specialist program. Upon completion of the program you can be considered for FAM hosting. You can also visit our YouTube channel to get a nice visual introduction to the destination’s major cities and top attractions.
More info on South Africa Tourism can be found on its website.