Travel Trade Journal
South Africa Tourism Aiming for accelerated recovery in India
India has gone from being South Africa’s 8th largest international market post-pandemic to being the 6th largest. South African Tourism is confident of further climbing up the ladder in terms of footfalls and is strategising on value-driven offerings, which are expected to significantly support and encourage the rapidly growing Indian tourist footfalls to South Africa. Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – MEISEA, South African Tourism shares more on their recovery efforts in India.
South African Tourism is expanding and deepening its footprint across tier-II and tier-III cities in India, given the rise in discretionary spending power in these areas. They understand that affordability is the key, as is building aspiration to travel with localised content that resonates and speaks the language of their audiences. Towards this end, they will be hosting Indian influencers at the destination to create ‘desi’ content that will have a greater impact and recall with consumers across the country.
“We have been deliberate in widening our offerings and building awareness for them in India by ensuring market access for new South African players ranging from DMCs, hospitality brands, tour companies, provinces, and experiences. Our efforts to showcase diverse South African products and new regions are paying off with KwaZulu-Natal, greater Mpumalanga, and the Eastern Cape now enjoying a larger share of the India market,” shares Neliswa.
Adding on she says, “Along with travel conferences and trade shows, we are witnessing amped up interest from Indian corporates for meetings and conferences. MICE is back with a bang! We have multiple groups travelling to South Africa in the next quarter. Group size varies from 50 to 1000. Additionally, we anticipate bookings from the financial, information technology, beauty, insurance, coal and mining, pharmaceutical, entertainment, and sporting sectors in India.”
While South Africa does not have a direct flight, it enjoys great connectivity with extremely short layovers across all major international airlines. The destination also revised regulations related to the surveillance, control, and management of COVID-19 to allow ease of travel. Travellers from India to South Africa are now not required to produce a complete vaccination certificate or a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.
Regarding visas, travellers can apply via VFS, where the visa processing time is extremely short. We are currently processing Indian tourist and business visas on priority – the validity depends on the trip duration and the request for single-entry / multiple entries made by travellers. While the e-visa for Indians is in the testing phase, availing of a South African visa in India takes anywhere between 5 to 10 working days, which is significantly faster than other long-haul destinations.
Highlighting some of the destinations experiential, Neliswa says, “A South African style vacation can be as laid-back or as active as travellers would like it to be. They can go on a safari, indulge in adventure activities, enjoy a city break, relax by the beach, or sample delicious food and wine. Breathtaking landscapes, aweinspiring wildlife, warm local hospitality, rich history, and culture come together to weave unforgettable memories. There is the formidable and astoundingly beautiful Drakensberg Mountain Range in KwaZulu-Natal – as well as the wild stretches of bushveld in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and the North-West provinces. The Free State offers big skies and homegrown hospitality, and the Northern Cape’s mesmerising lunar landscapes offer a new way to interpret adventure.”
To position the destination as one of the most preferred destinations for Indian travellers, Neliswa shares, “Since we have seen demand for offbeat, non-touristy experiences, we are packaging and selling itineraries that include the new regions of South Africa, which go beyond the popular cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sun City (North West). Travellers can use these anchor cities as a gateway to the rest of these picturesque new regions, including the stunning and relatively unexplored Port Elizabeth, Robertson, West Coast, Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal, Panorama Route (Mpumalanga), and Garden Route.
Given that India is one of their largest international source markets, South African Tourism has accelerated recovery initiatives this year. In the first quarter of the year, they rolled out the More and More campaign. Additionally, efforts are being made to directly dial up the consumer and build aspiration for the destination South Africa.
“Another large focus area for us is mobilising niche communities in India. We are already seeing an increase in biking groups, who want to explore the spectacular South African terrain. We are also looking at having more runners from India participate in South African ultramarathons like the Comrades Marathon and the Two Oceans Marathon. We expect self-drives to be popular with Indian travellers given that South Africa has some of the most beautiful self-drive routes in the world, along with solo/group women travel and golf-themed holidays,” concludes Neliswa.