SA eyes tiered cities
Hanneli Slabber, India Country Head, South African Tourism, talks about how the country is ensuring that it maintains the steady inflow of MICE traffic
What kind of requests do you get from MICE groups?
Besides meetings, South Africa is booming as a conference destination. In terms of MICE from India, incentive-led travel dominates, at approximately 80 per cent. A lot of requests come from strategy-planning incentives, where travellers opt for unusual team-bonding setups like game drive vehicles, which not only add a tinge of unconventionality but also encourage discussions. Incentive-led travellers are always on the lookout for culturally rich, off-the-beaten track experiences that can cater to a variety of individual tastes and South Africa is the perfect option. A major change has also been observed in terms of traveller motivation – companies do not prefer offering a paid holiday anymore, they are more driven towards holistic programs where they can imbibe their company's values and benefits.
How is the traffic from India?
Indian visitor numbers to South Africa have surged 21.67 per cent during 2016 to 95,377 and eighth position among our international source markets. Corporate firms such as HDFC, Hercules, 9X Media, ACC Cement, Siyaram Silk etc. have organised their MICE trips to South Africa. Also, repeat business traveller growth stands at approximately 35 per cent.
Where do you get a lot of demand from?
Cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad are mature markets for us but we are witnessing good arrival figures from cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata. In the coming times we hope to see an increase in MICE business from mini-metros and tier II markets in India as well.
What makes South Africa perfect for MICE? We believe that we a have a winning combination – a favourable currency exchange, diverse cuisine including vegetarian and Indian options, experiences across wildlife, adventure as well as attractions for shopping and nightlife along with a variety of graded accommodation. Moreover, there is an increasing trend of moving away from the traditional meeting scenes, with people now willing to go beyond the boardrooms and choose open spaces.
Does SA offer any offers for big corporate groups?
For meetings and incentives we offer support at various levels including assistance with bid presentation, support to CVBs, provision of letters of support, provision of destination collateral, site inspection, delegate boosting, familiarisation trips, pre and post tours, venue selection assistance and assistance with visa processing in select offices. Most Indian corporate face the constraint of budgets, while organising outbound MICE trips abroad. We tie up with our Indian trade partners for interesting packages to South Africa such as 7th Sky Tours and Travels, Aerospace, Club 7, Cox and Kings, Dewan, Expedia, Flamingo, Kulin Kumar, Travel Bazar, TUI, Thomas Cook amongst others in the past for such offers.