With a growing South American market, Tourism Update takes a look at how easy it is for travellers to visit southern and East Africa.

Southern Africa

According to André Laget, MD at Akilanga DMC and Events, air access into southern Africa is “cheaper than ever and very easy”. Currently, there are three airlines flying direct to southern Africa from Sao Paulo. SAA and Latam both fly direct to Johannesburg while TAAG flies to Luanda. On TAAG, passengers can then fly direct to Cape Town from Luanda, which according to Laget, is very popular amongst younger, millennial travellers due to TAAG’s favourable pricing.

Dinky Malikane, Regional General Manager: Americas at South African Tourism says: “Currently, due to the competition between SAA and Latam, prices for flights to South Africa have been reduced by an average of 20%.” She further explains that with prices sometimes as low as US$200 for a return ticket, “even the first-time travellers started to go for South Africa, driven by these low prices, and many of them bought the ticket first and then started to research the destination.”

Sonia Fernandez Carralero, Key Account Sales Manager – Latin America, Southern Europe, Scandinavia and Australasia at Thompsons Africa, also notes that with connections in the Middle East, Emirates could also be an option, although SAA and Latam appear to remain the travellers’ first choice. SA Tourism, however, notes that Emirates has the benefit of flying direct to Cape Town from Dubai, avoiding the Johannesburg connection.

From a packaging point of view, Fernandez Carralero notes that in her experience, travellers sometimes combine Cape Town with Kenya, so direct flights from Cape Town to Nairobi help in that regard.

East Africa

Antonio Marugan, CEO of Kobo Safaris, says that air access into East Africa is unfortunately still a struggle. “Basically, SAA are the only ones who can do it easily but, while they give good fares to Johannesburg, the add-ons to Kenya and Tanzania are really expensive. Kenya Airways gives many connections, but since there is no agreement between them and SAA, passengers are forced to buy separate tickets.” Additionally, Marugan notes that SAA’s destinations in East Africa are not always optimal for key tourist attractions. For example, SAA only flies into Dar es Salaam, which does not suit travellers looking to head to the northern safari circuit. “This forces passengers to buy domestic flights to Arusha, and on top of that, additional nights in Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg to return to Brazil.”

However, Marugan also notes that the Ethiopian Airlines route via Buenos Aires has opened up the market considerably, as well as connections via Dubai. “There are also even more people using Turkish Airlines.”

Finally, Marugan says: “With the new direct flight from New York to Nairobi on Kenya Airways, I am positive passengers from Mexico, Colombia and even Peru will look into going via the US instead of South Africa.”