South African Tourism trains 1 700 Indian travel agents
South African Tourism has just recently concluded the 7th edition of its annual travel trade training sessions in India. Aimed at equipping travel agents with the best tips to sell the destination, ‘Learn South Africa’ (Learn SA) is a 17-city training programme which covered urban metros and tier II & III markets. It witnessed an impressive attendance of 1700 travel agents.
The sessions were structured to ensure that travelers enjoy many new, exciting, tailor-made itinerary options as a direct result.
“The Learn SA is very important for us as it is all part of the work that we are doing in contributing towards achieving our 5 in 5 strategic goals to attract four million more international tourist arrivals and one million more domestic holiday trips in the next five years. Through Learn SA, we ensure that Indian travel agents know how to choose the best quality hotels for their customer’s budget and needs. It also teaches them how to choose the best in-destination partners to escort the traveler while on holiday. It also gives them updates about new things to see and do in South Africa as well as providing basic information such as visa requirements,” said Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager India, South African Tourism.
“Travel Agents Association of India’s (TAAI) endeavor through training programmes is to educate travel agents so that it is easy for the staff of travel companies to effectively sell the product. This is the second time that we have undertaken this training in partnership with South African Tourism and we are happy that the trade is getting exclusive marketing tips from the South African Tourism team and stakeholders from SA who have come to India,” declared Bettaiah Lokesh, Hon. Secretary General, TAAI.
The preference for holidays in South Africa has been on a rise amongst Indian travelers over the past few years and is expected to continue in 2017.
“2016 was a milestone year for us at South African Tourism in India and we are determined to set new benchmarks for the industry as well as ourselves by making 2017 bigger and better. Our internal target is to host more than 100,000 Indian visitors in 2017 and we couldn’t be more thrilled to work towards and achieve this target,” added Hanneli Slabber.
Indian leisure visitor numbers to South Africa surged 21.7% during 2016 to close at an arrivals figure of 95,377 and 8th position among South Africa’s international source markets. This is vis-à-vis 78,385 arrivals in 2015. 2016 also saw the overall spends from India (only in-country on-tour spends excluding flights and attractions, hotels booked in advance) crossed 1.2 billion ZAR by the year end. All these statistics indicate that Indian travelers are already showing excitement about destination South Africa.
South Africa is keen to keep attracting India’s travel enthusiasts and potential is brimming. With a total wealth pinned at $6.2 trillion as of December 2016, the 2017 New World Wealth Report identifies India as the 6th largest wealth market in the world. It is also home to 264,000 millionaires and 95 billionaires making it richer than European giants like France and Italy and also Australia and Canada. Shaping the Future of Luxury Travel Report by Amadeus states that India’s booming middle class presents great potential for luxury travel investment over the coming decade. As per figures released by online travel portal ClearTrip, air travel consumption from Tier II/III Indian cities was a record 55% in FY16. Hotel bookings from Tier II/III Indian cities was 71% in FY16.
South Africa is the perfect destination with its variety of distinctive attractions, unforgettable experiences, world-class facilities and excellent infrastructure both luxury as well as budget travelers. One of Learn SA 2017’s focus areas was to train travel agents about new destinations. It attracts such Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Port Elizabeth and the Drakensberg region beyond the immensely popular Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg & surrounds and Kruger National Park. These are picturesque areas where travelers can pack in a lot of action into shorter time-spans.
Learn SA 2017 had numerous participating South African product suppliers resulting in more choices for the traveler. These included inbound tour operators and destination management companies like Thompsons, Africa Incoming, Trav Care, SST, Extraordinary RAD, African Link and Southern Africa 360; hotel chains such as Tsogo Sun and Sun International and African air carrier RwandAir which is introducing exciting fares and deals to India.
Over 70 international airlines now fly into South Africa. Efforts are on to increase seat capacity on relevant flight routes ex-India. Presently, Indian cities are connected to South Africa by Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines, Air Mauritius, Air Seychelles, RwandAir, Jet Airways and Air India which fly via their respective hubs and domestic India connections. Travelers have a variety of airlines, connections and consequently, multiple fare options to choose from. The Rand (ZAR)-Rupee exchange rate has been relatively favorable for the India market. Since the South Africa product quote comes in ZAR and not US dollars, Indian travelers are able to buy more experiences and activities for less money thus, making South Africa a value-for-money destination.