South Africa tar­gets Mid­dle East mar­ket

The South African Tourism Board has not only in­vested in new strate­gies but also ap­pointed a ded­i­cated and re­source­ful pro­fes­sional to spear­head the team in the right di­rec­tion. Sadiq Din­dar, Mar­ket­ing & Pro­mo­tions Man­ager for Mid­dle East, shares the stra

Travel Talk - Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - TT BU­REAU

Q What plans has South Africa Tourism Board ar­ranged for the Mid­dle East mar­ket?

South African Tourism did a com­plete re­view of the globe start­ing nearly two years ago in or­der to re­align our mar­ket­ing in­vest­ment. We re­viewed our in­vest­ment frame­work and made many in-depth re­search on var­i­ous mar­kets, fo­cus­ing specif­i­cally on ar­eas of op­er­a­tion and bud­get (cost of ac­qui­si­tion). The Mid­dle East has shown enor­mous po­ten­tial for tourism to South Africa and it was es­tab­lished as one of the mar­kets that will be ser­viced from the In­dia hub (to­gether with mar­kets in South East Asia and Turkey). Although the re­gion is clubbed with In­dia, the mar­ket­ing and trade sup­port will be ren­dered from our of­fices in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Q How is the growth po­ten­tial from the Mid­dle East to South Africa?

We have seen in­cred­i­bly good growth from the Mid­dle East with 2016 be­ing our best year ever. We recorded 53,536 ar­rivals, a 36 per cent in­crease on the pre­vi­ous year. (Ar­rivals fig­ures only in­cludes pass­port hold­ers from Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries and ex­cludes all ex­pa­tri­ates trav­el­ling from the Mid­dle East). Jan­uary to June 2017 shows an in­crease of 13 per cent over the same pe­riod in 2016. Sea­son­al­ity from the Mid­dle East re­gion is fairly flat, with slight peaks in March, July and Au­gust.

Q What are the unique fea­tures of the Mid­dle East­ern trav­eller?

Sa­fari and wildlife is not a sig­nif­i­cant draw­card for this mar­ket and the av­er­age re­quests ven­ture more to­wards city life and shop­ping. We have found that our Mid­dle East­ern trav­ellers like to base them­selves in a cen­tral point and ex­plore from there. Our Mid­dle East­ern clien­tele also travel with shorter no­tice pe­riod, in big­ger fam­ily groups and very of­ten multi-gen­er­a­tional.

South Africa has a wide va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tion avail­able – ev­ery­thing from vil­las (ser­viced or self-cater­ing if you pre­fer to bring your own chef) to ho­tels to apart­ments. Ow­ing to the var­ied re­quire­ments from our tar­get mar­ket, we have ex­tended our grad­ing cri­te­ria to cover all types of ac­com­mo­da­tion. This is an ex­cel­lent qual­ity guar­an­tee and peace of mind not only for the travel agent, but also for the trav­eller! Although our trav­ellers from the Mid­dle East are big­ger spenders than some of our other mar­kets, they have a keen eye for qual­ity and value for money. South Africa is able to of­fer both of those – we have ex­cep­tional value, of­fer high qual­ity goods, im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice – and that all in the same high stan­dard of lux­u­ri­ous shop­ping cen­tres that our vis­i­tors are used to in the Mid­dle East. We have seen an in­crease in bleisure travel from the re­gion – a mix­ture of busi­ness and leisure – and South Africa is per­fectly po­si­tion to give you the best of both worlds.

Q What are the strate­gies to lure more ME trav­ellers to South Africa?

South African Tourism has a very de­lib­er­ate strat­egy for the Mid­dle East and the cen­tre of the strat­egy fo­cuses on the travel trade. Our re­search shows that the ma­jor­ity of our trav­ellers book through the trade, hence we have worked our strat­egy around ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and sup­port for the trade. The ac­ti­va­tion of this strat­egy would be done in dif­fer­ent ways, in­clu­sive of train­ing work­shops, on­line train­ing of­fer­ings, host­ing of fa­mil­iar­iza­tion trips, joint mar­ket­ing agree­ments, ex­po­sure to Ind­aba and Meet­ings Africa, etc.

We are work­ing very closely with the South African trade in or­der to of­fer the per­fect ex­pe­ri­ence to the Mid­dle East­ern trav­eller. South Africa has a sub­stan­tial Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion and Ha­lal food is avail­able all over the coun­try. We also have a num­ber of Mus­lim tour op­er­a­tors that spe­cial­ize in the Mid­dle East­ern mar­ket. We are see­ing more and more of the big­ger op­er­a­tors as well as niche op­er­a­tors ven­tur­ing into the Mid­dle East as they recog­nise the po­ten­tial.

The Mid­dle East has shown enor­mous po­ten­tial for tourism to South Africa and it was es­tab­lished as one of the mar­kets that will be ser­viced from the In­dia hub (to­gether with se­lected mar­kets in South East Asia and Turkey)

SadiqS di Di Din­dard Mar­ket­ing & Pro­mo­tions Man­ager for Mid­dle East

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