Tapping into the North American young adult market is one way that the South African tourism industry can achieve growth from this region.

This is the view of Iris Serbanescu, Director of Partnerships at TourRadar, an online travel agency that specialises in multi-day tours across 200 countries.

Serbanescu was one of the Canadian travel partners who attended the South African Tourism and Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) North America roadshow in Toronto on October 21.

SA Tourism and TBCSA are holding roadshows in several key markets to unlock the growth potential that the South African tourism industry requires to achieve the 2030 goal of 21 million arrivals set by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“About 35% of all the North American travellers we have sent to South Africa in 2019 so far were between the ages of 25 and 34,” said Serbanescu, adding that average days spent in South Africa by this demographic was around eight days per trip.

“This is also the fastest growing segment for us specifically in South Africa, growing at 65% year on year, which is higher than the 50-plus growth rate.”

All this is good news for the South African tourism industry as these insights are valuable when making decisions to market to the various segments in the market. Marketing now to the younger demographic will benefit the industry in the long run.

“You have to start informing the younger demographic about the opportunities for travel. The older people might have more money, but the younger demographic are more willing to get to the more off-the-beaten-paths within the country. Eventually they will become the older market that will have the money, so if South Africa can get in now and really understand what that market needs and wants and how to communicate with them, you are on the best trajectory,” explained Serbanescu.

Commenting on the content of the roadshow, Serbanescu also praised the efforts of SA Tourism and the TBCSA.

“It was interesting to see how much value the South African team places on trade insights to inform their strategy. Not every tourism board will come to their markets and ask the right questions and I felt that the questions that were asked today were really key and moving the South African tourism industry forward.”

Serbanescu suggested that to target the 25-34 demographic, a thorough and well-thought-out influencer strategy was a must, along with a targeted media approach.