South Africa Tourism, which is aiming to attract at least 500,000 tourists from India by 2020, held a roadshow in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. Gujarat is one of the key source markets for tourists to South Africa.
Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, South African Tourism said that nearly 80% of all outbound travel from India happens from the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. “In order to woo Gujarati tourists, our government had trained around 3000 chefs to cook vegetarian varieties of food. Now, tourists from Gujarat would not have to bother about food while travelling to South Africa,” she said.
In 2013, 1,12,672 Indian tourists visited the country located on the southern tip of African continent, while between January-March 2014, only 24,556 travelled there. South Africa’s top source market is the UK followed by the US and Germany, Slabber said.
The roadshow witnessed participation from first time entrants such as Franschhoek Wine Valley, Turnberry Boutique Hotel, Gary Kirsten Travel and Tours, Paarl & Wellington Tourism, Cango Wildlife Ranch, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, Double Tree By Hilton Cape Town among others.
South African Tourism will lead the 63-member South African delegation to Bangalore on February 5 before culminating in New Delhi on February 6.
“In observation of the increasing outbound travel demand from the Indian market, we have welcomed several new South African suppliers to sell their unique products to the Indian travel fraternity this year. In order to sustain our growth and widen our audience reach in the country, we will continue to explore newer markets and traveler segments to leverage the available opportunities” added Slabber.
Last year, the annual roadshow travelled to Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi with 64 South African suppliers and witnessed attendance from over 1200 Indian travel agents.
While the data for the full year 2014 is yet to be collated, last year there were several challenges like problems in issuing visas due to manpower issue and the Ebola outbreak (in West African countries), which hit tourist arrivals. However, this year, a double digit growth in tourist arrivals is expected, in the range of around 12%.
South Africa Tourism is also planning to tap the huge potential of tier II and tier III cities in India and the national tourism agency is also planning ‘Learn South Africa’ – a training programme for Indian travel agents in 19 cities, including Lucknow and Patna, this year to educate them on the country’s offerings.
Besides leisure travellers, meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) segment enjoys good response from India, Slabber said adding that MICE constituted nearly 50% of their tourism business.