An eclectic wonderland, South Africa has been impressing its visitors from far and wide. Natalie Hami writes.
Home to remarkable history, dramatic landscapes and enviable diversity, South Africa’s travel and tourism industry has been making all the right moves to provide visitors with a warm welcome and plenty of adventure.
“One of South Africa’s greatest attributes is its diversity. Its people, its cultures, its scenery and its leisure offerings are all tremendously varied, which creates exciting holiday opportunities. But this also makes it tricky to decide where to start,” opined managing director, Newmark Hotels, Residences, Reserves & Lodges, Neil Markovitz. “For this reason, we’ll share a few insider tips and a handful of our favourite spots.”
Markovitz stated that guests staying at select Newmark properties can enjoy a number of memorable experiences. These include guided nature walks or mountain bike rides in Mpumalanga at Nkomazi Private Game Reserve. Guests who enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of unbridled nature can also try out safari walks in the bush at Motswari Private Game Reserve in Limpopo. And for those looking to indulge their more artistic side, the hotel group offers a range of scenic tours in Cape Town, or a walking tour through Maboneng (considered one of Johannesburg’s trendiest neighbourhoods), while guests can additionally explore the art scene at the fascinating AGOG Gallery.
Taking pride in the destination’s diversity, tourism stakeholders are keen to reflect that in their own unique offering.
One example of this is Tamrich Tours, which is launching a number of new experiential products for the new year, according to its managing director, Madeleine Hetem. These include the ‘Roadtripping – Live like a Local’ day experience, the ‘Come Dine with Me’ (Halal) experience and the ‘Come Fly with Me’ (guided or otherwise) experience.
Traditionally serving the broader categories of the leisure, group, corporate and MICE sectors, Hetem explained to TTG that Tamrich Tours will now be looking at the subsegments within these segments, exploring niches such as women’s group travel, as well as special interest themes such as art, gastronomy, adventure, photo-safaris and spa and wellness.
“Our activation strategies include the communication and distribution of sample itineraries targeting these niches, familiarisation trips and social media collaboration, allowing experiential products and services to be shared with influencers who share their personal experiences and recommendations.”
And while other sectors continue to blossom, so does South Africa’s MICE industry, with the impressive destination regularly playing host to a number of key events.
Specifically Cape Town, which was recently crowned the ‘World’s Leading Festival and Events Destination’ at the 2018 World Travel Awards, will be hosting the prestigious WTM Africa, set to take place from April 10-12, 2019.
General manager-marketing, travel, tourism and sports, Reed Exhibitions, Llewellyn du Plessis told TTG that this year’s exhibition will introduce new content, such as agri-tourism (also known as agro-tourism), spa and wellness tourism, paleo-tourism and much more.
Focusing on both inbound and outbound travel to Africa, the renowned travel trade exhibition will also feature international speakers from across the globe who will be offering insight on key topics and travel trends.
Meanwhile, turning our heads to South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, PR and communication manager, Joburg Tourism, Laura Vercueil predicts that this year is set to be ‘a great year for business events in Johannesburg’. “Continuous engagement with industry partners is set to play a pivotal role in strengthening the business events sector,” Vercueil added.
Johannesburg’s latest International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranking (published in May 2018 and assessed during the January-December 2017 period), places the city at 113 globally (up from 186) and second on the African continent (up from five).
Vercueil noted that Joburg Tourism has a number of MICE activities in the pipeline, set to take place up until 2021.
With a keen eye on MENA, 21 South African tourism entities and companies recently visited the region to meet with leading outbound travel professionals.
The mission, entitled ‘Learn South Africa Roadshow’, was the first of its kind and worked to showcase the destination’s touristic offerings, promoting it as a leisure, honeymoon and business travel destination. The roadshow visited Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and the KSA.
In turn, the destination’s hospitality industry is following suit in courting the unique and lucrative MENA market.
Fancourt South Africa will be strongly focusing on the MENA and US markets, as well as the traditional European markets, according to sales and marketing director, Peter Dros.
Also noting that the MENA market is of particular interest was head of marketing, Premier Hotels & Resorts, Tim Culley: “The success of the region, coupled with the growing interest in visiting South Africa, make it a key region for us.”
CEO, andBeyond (a luxury travel company), Joss Kent revealed that the Middle East has brought forth ‘steadily increasing numbers’, while at Sun International, the tourism, leisure and gaming group has been reaching out to the Middle East travel trade via the Arabian Travel Market (ATM).
“We attended ATM last year and will be attending again in 2019. In 2018, we teamed up with South African Tourism and South African Airways representatives in the market to meet with a number of clients in the region. We plan to do this again,” said sales and marketing manager, andBeyond, Tenneil Olivier.
General manager-international sales, Tsogo Sun, Belinda McIntyre also noted that the homegrown hotel group has recently begun targeting the MENA market more aggressively, having attended ATM, the Leading Hotels of the World Roadshow as well as the South African tourism roadshow in the Middle East.
“Our strategic focus on these markets will continue to grow and we look forward to securing new key partnerships,” she added.
Appealing to a wide visitor base, South Africa continues to grow its key tourism niches with great zeal.