This article has been amended since first published to include &Beyond, and Inspirations Travel and Tours (ITT)

South African Tourism will embark on a pilot project in March, where 90 tourism trade participants from the Nordic region will be hosted in South Africa on a mega-familiarisation trip.

The trip will expose the participants to a range of local travel products across all nine provinces, including small businesses.

SAT is finalising a memorandum of understanding with 11 local destination marketing companies, including SEEZA, a relatively new black-owned DMC made up of a network of small, medium and micro enterprises.

South African Airways is also a key partner in the collaboration, and has had a say in the selection of agents who will attend. This is a collaborative initiative with the greater tourism industry, including the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association.

The DMCs being signed up to participate in the pilot project will have to stipulate and demonstrate how they will use South African SMMEs in their proposed itineraries.

The participating DMCs operating per province are:

-Limpopo and Mpumalanga: SW Africa Destination Management and Royal African Discoveries.

-Gauteng and Free State: SEEZA Destination Network.

-Eastern Cape and North West Province: Thompsons Africa and Tourvest DMC.

-Northern Cape and Western Cape: Get Africa Travel and Southern Africa 360 Luxury Holidays.

-Cape Town City: Propel Africa Destination Management and GiltEdge Africa.

-KwaZulu Natal: Inspirations Travel and Tours (ITT), as well as &Beyond. 

Both mainstream and small businesses are welcome to get involved in the project by contacting the relevant DMC for their province.

CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, said: “One of the key benefits of this collaboration is that the DMCs will be required to employ a 60/40 split in the proportion of mainstream versus small businesses that will be showcased during the trip. This will forge meaningful business connections and encourage sustainable tourism growth.”

Ntshona said the project aimed to increase awareness of the variety of South African travel products that could be packaged for the Nordic trade, while compelling large DMCs to work with small businesses and incorporate them into itineraries in a meaningful way.