Tourism guides – especially German-speaking guides – in South Africa, are no longer relevant to the evolving tourist market, which are largely millennials.

This was one of the views expressed by a German panellist, speaking at a roundtable discussion between SA Tourism and members of the German trade, at ITB Berlin on Wednesday, March 6. One operator added that German-speaking guides are stereotyped as “white guys who are way too old and conservative”. They need to be replaced with younger guides who are trained by experienced professional guides.

“Tourism needs to be a subject in schools and universities,” said the panellist, “and tourism needs to be made more sexy [to attract a new wave of guides]”. He continued that better education was needed for guides – knowledge shared by guides who are industry professionals, as well as guides who speak the language of the travellers they are hosting. A programme should thus be considered to offer education to guides so they are able to understand this new wave of consumer, and cater to their needs accordingly.

“The profile of the German traveller has changed,” agreed SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona. From the latest SA stats, the 18 to 35-year-old market has increased; the 35+ market has decreased; and the 55+ market has increased. “There is a need to understand this ‘modern-day traveller’. They are more demanding, they want bespoke, individual experiences, authenticity, and life-changing experiences.”

Ntshona continued: “We are replacing what a ‘tour guide’ is in South Africa” – from the stereotype mentioned above who doesn’t appeal to the youth, to one who understands this market and does.