Travel Trade Journal

South Africa Tourism Aiming for accelerate­d recovery in India

- Prashant Nayak

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.

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Neliswa Nkani

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