Safari industry consultant and tourism marketer, Sharon Gilbert-Rivett, wrote to dispel to myths and misperceptions about travellers’ experiences or concerns about choosing South Africa as a destination.
“I’ve just returned from a weekend at one of my client lodges in the Klaserie, where I spent considerable time with some American guests, chatting to them about all things travel in the time of a global pandemic.
I asked them what was the single biggest concern when choosing South Africa as a vacation destination, expecting a ‘COVID variant’ or ‘low vaccination rate’ answer.
Their response? Crime.
The way the recent riots were reported across the US has undone decades of positive growth and has allowed fear of crime to re-emerge as a major factor negatively affecting travel to South Africa.
The guests I spoke to were intelligent enough to look through the negative reporting and understand the political landscape that led to the recent riots, and took the plunge. They loved every minute of their 12-day trip.
They brought their own COVID test kits and went through a 20-minute video call with the test kit producers via an app that links directly with the airlines, and got their negative results for travel home.
They would come back in a heartbeat, they told me, now they know what to expect and how amazing it all is.
So chew on this, tourism colleagues. We are all so focused on the pandemic we are not looking deeper. Removing barriers to travel is essential for South Africa’s and Africa’s recovery. But not all of those barriers are COVID related and we need to remember that when selling our products.”