David Frost, CEO of SATSA, says during the joint SA Tourism/TBCSA international roadshows last year, it was clear that overseas customers have a huge interest in new tourism experiences and products.
“This mirrors the initiatives SATSA has embarked on to provide market linkages and create awareness about new experiences, spearheaded largely by our Garden Route Chapter through Mega Fams and Workshops. In 2020, SATSA will be engaging with other provinces to help these unlock regional tourism potential, such as the Cape West Coast and Limpopo.
“Furthermore, these initiatives are largely aimed at providing opportunities for previously disadvantaged SMME players to access the formal tourism space – a focus we will continue to support vigorously this year.”
At the abovementioned feedback sessions for the international roadshows, South African Tourism’s Chief Strategy Officer, Bashni Muthaya shared data that indicated a small percentage of international tourists actually visit more than one province.
“We need to focus on new product platforms, you know, the so-called hidden gems. But also on generating new itineraries that can be a lot more appealing and talk to consumer needs.”
TBCSA’s Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa points out that industry transformation is essential when it comes to our tourism offering. “We will continue to promote transformation as well as encouraging partnerships between big and small companies. We need to work harder to open doors for SMMEs and hidden gems to access the markets and be part of the tourism industry.”
The potential of the ‘mid-market’ was also highlighted at the feedback sessions – as the global tourism industry becomes more competitive in terms of pricing.
Reading the needs of the customer
It’s important to shift with market needs, and local operators are looking at their current product offerings and adjusting packages to accommodate the changes and needs of the marketplace. In response to the demand for shorter tours, Drifters recently launched a number of five-day tours called Drifters Experiences.
Understanding your market
Diversifying product also makes sense and this year. Tintswalo is expanding its brand with a magnificent wedding venue in Cape Town. “The design will be a sequence of external and internal spaces directed by magnificent site parameters. Simplistically modern with reference to local architecture and a view to dream about, it promises to be another Tintswalo marvel to add to its portfolio of unique lodges.”
Classic Portfolio is also excited to launch a new division within Classic Portfolio, Conservation & Expeditions, with a focus on “sustainability through conscious travel”. “Here we will be working with conservation organisations and support them through marketing small set-departure expedition-style trips into the remote wilderness areas in which they operate,” says owner, Suzanne Bayly-Coupe.
For clients looking for authentic experiences in Southern Africa, community tourism projects offer the possibility of connecting with local South Africans and exposure to cultures and aspects of life they won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Steve Collins, CEO of the African Safari Foundation (a Johannesburg-based NGO) predicts a growing need for community lodges and community-based tourism as the world becomes more conscious of sustainability in travel.
“Travel these days is not only about being exposed to the beauty of nature, but also by being able to access communities and take part in community-based travel. There’s more awareness now about where people choose to stay and I think there is going to be greater demand for community-based accommodation and experiences.”