The four-city initiative hosted by South African Tourism offers travel agents in Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai a chance to interact with a variety of suppliers. Hotel chains, airlines, products, attractions, destination management companies and local tourism offices keen on networking and deal-making with Indian agents,have brought to the table a host of exciting updates.
SA Tourism India is confident that the 14th edition of the annual event will set the pace for growth during the year ahead. Speaking on the side-lines of the event, Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, SA Tourism India said: “It helps us get a feel of the market and through B2B exchange acts as a catalyst for conversion to bookings in the coming months.” This year’s roadshow is especially significant because this is the first time that the delegation also includes the participation of the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) and the Tourism Grading Council South Africa (TGCSA). “These bodies can provide a certain quality assurance to travellers and travel agents, which is imperative as the market grows and begins looking at newer locations within the destination. It is also important when return travellers come into the fray as they might want to book direct.”
Elaborating, Hannelie Du Toit, COO, SATSA said “With growing demand for the destination, one has to assume that travel agents of all sizes get queries and bookings for holidays to South Africa. As a result, in addition to India’s big travel brands, small travel companies are also showing interest in selling the destination. SATSA is here to provide them with reassurance and guidance on their partnerships with South African travel service providers. “
Darryl Erasmus, Chief Quality Assurance Officer, TGCSA, which is a business unit of South African Tourism, explained that star grading is of special significance in a value-conscious, price-sensitive market as it equips travellers with the ability to identify appropriate accommodation options and are assured of value, comfort and service standards. “We are here to inform the Indian market of our critical role in the South Africa Tourism sector and to promote our accessible and beneficial tools available to select quality assured accommodation in South Africa. Our quality assurance efforts also extend to venues and we encourage all MICE planners to select products that have been accredited with the TGCSA’s grading system.”
Regional tourism offices that are part of the on-going roadshow includeJoburg Tourism, Cape Town Tourism, Durban Tourism, Buffalo City, Oudtshoorn Tourism, Plattenberg Tourism and Gauteng Tourism.
Encouraged by the success of prior editions and by the prospect of being on the right platform to target the Indian market, many new product and accommodation brands were part of this year’s roadshow. Their interest emerges from the fact that Indians are now looking more qualitative experiences ie South Africa is witnessing higher spend travellers who are also more exploratory in nature rather than touristy. New entrants include boutique hotel chain Lion Roars Hotels & Lodges and whale-watching attraction Ocean Odyssey and DMC Africa Incoming, car-rental company Multilayer Trade Corporation (tapping into the burgeoning self-drive market from India) and domestic airline Safair (tapping into the increasing number of Indians exploring various new parts of South Africa.) Additionally, Air Seychelles (which many Indians use to fly to South Africa via Mahe) that is said to be starting a flight to Durban starting March is also present.
SA Tourism estimates that 600-1000 agents will have been updated on the destinationthrough the roadshow, which is estimated to see over10,000 meetings over 4 days. “We expect this to have a multiplier effect on arrivals in the coming months of 2017.” Slabber said.