Africa continues to be a key growth market for us. We are determined to keep that trend going by ensuring arrivals from the continent keep growing”
South Africa’s tourism credentials as a leisure destination were put on full display at this year’s Akwaaba travel and trade show. During the three day show, the South African Tourism team pulled out all stops to actively promote South Africa’s unique value proposition as a leisure destination to the West African traveller and trade.
Akwaaba attracts the best exhibitors and buyers from the African and global travel and tourism industry. It is widely regarded as the leading travel trade show in West Africa and a must attend show for exhibitors who want to engage with key members of the trade and gain a greater share of the consumer travel market.
Thulani Nzima, chief executive officer, South African Tourism, says: “Regional Africa and in particular the East and West African regions, continue to be key growth markets for us. We have invested considerable resources in growing tourist arrivals from these regions to South Africa.”
“Our participation at this year’s Akwaab show served as the perfect platform for us to continue building and strengthening partnerships with the outbound sector of the Regional African tourism industry and with our partners in media and the travel trade who give South Africa fantastic support in destination marketing and sales. It also gave us the opportunity to demonstrate the best of our leisure offering to the rest of the continent and to the broader global industry that recognises the potential of Africa’s future.”
West Africa, more specifically, Nigeria and South Africa have enjoyed a long-standing and fruitful partnership. The two countries have many times spoken of their resolve to strengthen relations and work together for the long-term betterment of an economically vibrant African continent. Travel and tourism has been identified as a key driver in unbridling this potential.
South African Tourism used its time at Akwaaba to meet with the trade, present to them the destination’s value proposition and, most significantly, cement deals which will see South Africa’s destination offering bolstered in the consumer space.
“The travel trade is a critical component to the work that we do. During Akwaaba we officially announced our partnership with the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) who will help boost tourist arrivals growth from Nigeria to South Africa by developing a range of packages to suit the Nigerian traveller,” explains Nzima.
This partnership, he says, is a significant milestone and one which we believe will go far in reaffirming our commitment to bolstering the economic relations between Nigeria and South Africa. It will also give us access to a wide audience of discerning travellers who contribute significantly to South Africa’s growth.
Growth in Regional African arrivals has been driving growth of South Africa’s tourism industry for many years now. Tourist arrivals to South Africa from Nigeria in particular have enjoyed a steady incline. A total of 84, 589 Nigerian tourists visited South Africa last year (2013). This is a 15.4 percent increase to the 73, 282 Nigerian tourists who visited South Africa in 2012.
“It is an upward trend that is truly welcome,” Nzima says.
“However, Ebola has brought about fresh challenges which threaten to put a dent in possible growth in arrivals from the continent. We are thrilled that Nigeria has been declared Ebola free by World Health Organisation (WHO) and congratulate the Akwaaba organising team for going ahead with the trade show,” he adds.
“We continue to field a number of enquiries from travellers and media on the safety of travel into Regional Africa. These queries highlight the effect the fear and misconceptions people have about this outbreak and the detrimental effect it’s having on the image and reputation of the continent. Part of this is caused by limited understanding of the geographical locations of countries in our continent,” he explains.
“Africans should stand together and continue to educate the rest of the world. If we want to continue attracting business and welcoming tourists from all over the world, it is our responsibility as the collective African trade industry to manage these perceptions swiftly.
“SA Tourism has started this process through our country offices. We continuously disseminate factual information about the outbreak and measures taken by the South African government to ensure that South Africa is ready should a case of Ebola be detected in our country. We also work hard to reassure travellers, through our trade, that travel to other countries on the continent where the outbreak has been detected is still safe if the necessary precautions are taken,” says Nzima.
SA Tourism is also determined in its resolve to help tourists curtail the length of time spent trying to plan a visit to the country.
“Our partnerships with NANTA and other trade organisations are built on our desire to make travel to South Africa as accessible, hassle-free and as pleasant as possible, right from the time a tourist decides to visit. We are working with all stakeholders in country and South Africa to help realise this. What we ultimately aspire to is to equip trade to better assist travellers, in a friendly and cordial manner, with all information upfront” explains Nzima.
“Once in South Africa, we want our visitors to enjoy the experiences intended specifically for them; to engage with and be embraced by the warmth and welcoming nature of our people and be impressed by our world class product and hospitality. We want to create fond memories for our visitors, memories they will gladly share with others or want to relive,” says Nzima.