Trending growth for South African Business and Incentive Tourism as defined by World Terms

Apr 18 2017
Latest News Peter Hayward

Just over 5.5 Million people moved through South Africa’s ports of entry in just over 30 days between 9 December 2016 and 14 January 2017, according to the latest stats from the World Tourism Organisation, highlighting that tourism to South Africa attracts more foreign exchange than gold mining, once the mainstay of the South African economy.

As World Travel Market Africa opens its doors to international travel trade buyers in Cape Town from 19-21 April and the much-lauded Indaba 2017 in Durban from the 16-18 May 2017, South Africa will once again be under the tourism spotlight to showcase its natural resources and unique offerings that will continue to sustain its trajectory of uninterrupted solid growth within the tourism arena.

While some travel buyers will have their sights set on tours and budget travel options to visit Africa’s top highlights for the free independent traveler (FIT) market, tourism leaders in the incentive and corporate focused market will be looking for more custom designed products to fit international business event planners looking for exceptional offerings for high-profile groups that will resonate for longer.

“The FIT market focusses on budget options that takes visitors on a whirlwind tour past Cape Town’s Table Mountain, a game drive in the Kruger to tick off the Big 5 and possibly the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe when you could get a better view staying at home and watching Discovery channel,” says Peter Hayward, Safari Extraordinaire and owner of Hayward’s Grand Safari Company. “South Africa is a long-haul destination and travel groups need to look for more immersive travel experiences which ground them in Africa’s deep history and culture relevant to those sites of beauty they are visiting. Would you go sightseeing at Golgotha to witness where Jesus was crucified but not be interested in understanding its deep history and religion of the time or engaging with Israeli culture as it has evolved today. It is the same here, travel to Africa must incite all the senses and tourism outfits need experience in delivering that.”

South African challenges

Some of the branding and marketing challenges for travel leaders looking to bring groups to the continent have included Peter Hayward’s comment that South Africa is a long-haul destination; including service levels in need of development; malaria areas; and the crime issues related to political turbulence and a lack of resources and employment opportunities.

Despite these concerns few actual instances of negative occurrences affect visitors to the country. In fact, in direct opposition to news reports is the positive feedback and word of mouth reports following inbound trips which continue to position Africa as a destination that consistently under-promises and over-delivers on the unique richness of an African experience.

As Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba (now Finance Minister as of 31 March 2017) says “People feel safe when they come here, besides what South Africa offers as a tourism destination, it remains relatively isolated from the global turbulence that has occurred in other countries like the tragedy in Germany, and a lot of other countries that have also experienced terrorism”.

The task lies with tourism professionals and owner-run businesses such as Hayward’s Grand Safari Company, to make it easy for groups to fly here and do business or holiday to the standard expected by international travelers, with programmes that deliver on both the content and the experience.

Aligning Trends for 2017

As with other industry sectors, trends for 2017 include reaching and speaking to the largest generation in history, Millennials, who are also the youngest generation with disposable income and leaders in current travel and tourism spend. “Millennials want luxury not in the traditional sense of their parents but the luxury of authenticity, uniqueness and social value,” comments Peter Hayward. “2017 has been assigned the International Year of Sustainable Tourism by the UN and it is the Millennials – also known as Generation Y – who will make clear choices for economic, social and environmental awareness. The future of tourism in Africa must meet this focus to stand as the destination of choice; sadly much is still left wanting in tourism delivery. Millennials are most likely to support companies, such as ours, that express these values.”

Aligning with another tourism trend, that of mobile photography, is Hayward’s focus on photographic adventure safaris over that of hunting adventures. “Photography aligns with sustainable tourism but again, you don’t want to take home a few snapshots of a lion or elephant in the undergrowth taken from the back of a vehicle. When you share your photographs with friends and family on your return, they must be memories that evoke everything you have experienced in being at one with the natural world as you had never known it before.”

“When we bring big group events or luxury brands to converge in original environments with the wildlife, culture and history of the land across the African map, we are not just providing a 5 star safari experience, we are reminding them of their own original nature, of forgotten cultures, our deepest knowledge of the earth and each of our position within the galaxy… it becomes a profound and often life-changing experience.

Tell us about your World Travel Market Africa 2017 or Indaba 2017 experience in South Africa. Visit us to discuss how we can deliver Africa’s top, world-class safari experience for your group.