On January 30, SA Tourism will host its first ‘Learn SA Roadshow’ in Istanbul, where 11 SA trade partners, including SMMEs, tour operators and accommodation establishments, will have the opportunity to engage with around 50 specially selected Middle East and Turkish travel trade companies.

The roadshow will precede the 23rd East Mediterranean International Tourism & Travel (EMITT) exhibition, which will be held at the Tüyap Fair Convention and Congress Centre in Istanbul between January 31 and February 3. The roadshow aims to create awareness and increased knowledge about SA for the Turkish trade so that they can better sell the destination.

EMITT is one of the top four tourism exhibitions worldwide, attracting 54 000 industry professionals and tourists. This year it expects 450 buyers to attend from 80 countries.

Turkey is seen as a springboard to the rest of the Middle East, India, and South East Asia (MEISEA) region, and is a recent addition to the MEISEA portfolio. There a numerous factors that make SA attractive to Turkish travellers, says SA Tourism’s Chief Operating Officer, Sthembiso Dlamini.

“There are no visa requirements for travellers from both ends, and for Turkish tourists there is favourable airlift. This means there are direct flights from Turkey to South Africa with Turkish Airlines, coupled with a sufficient number of frequencies offered by other airlines,” says Dlamini. “This has led to 12 139 Turkish tourist arrivals between January and October 2018, a 2.4% increase from the previous year.”

EMITT is an important platform for SA to connect and engage with tour operators, travel agents and buyers who will attend the event, says Neliswa Nkani, SA Tourism’s Hub Head of MEISEA. “SA Tourism’s second appearance at EMITT will go a long way to help South Africa achieve its five-in-five goal of adding four million more international tourists, and one million more local travellers, to its current numbers by 2021.”

Insights reveal that Turkish families visit South Africa for its culture, scenic beauty, safaris and beaches, with young travellers visiting the country for the action and adventure tours. SA also offers a wide array of halaal restaurants and eateries across its nine provinces – important for Turkish travellers who are largely Muslim. SA was ranked one of the top 10 most Muslim-friendly travel destinations for 2018 by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, in the annual MasterCard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index.