South African Tourism and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) travelled to Vienna, Austria, on August 28 for the second round of engagements during the Central European leg of the Global Roadshow.

According to the South African Tourism Hub Head for Central Europe, Theresa Bay-Muller, Austrians are hungry to experience new, unknown parts of South Africa. “We have such a big opportunity to package new experiences, new areas and new products” she said.

Bay-Muller’s office has used innovative ways of promoting South Africa to the Austrian and Swiss markets, which have helped increase tourist numbers to the country. One of these ideas was Buschfunk, bush radio. “It is a platform that is buzzing with video snippets on key questions topical on the minds of the consumers. It showcases the friendliness of our people, their welcoming nature and how easy it is to travel through the country.”

Engelbert Egger, CEO of Austrian tour operator, Best4Travel, was pleased that government is taking control of the security situation, which was an issue for his company when trying to sell trips to South Africa. “No one wants to travel in the country that is unsafe. If we see the newspapers over the last two months there were messages that were not good and that affected bookings for the future.”

His advice to South Africa’s tourism leadership is to market more of the country, especially the regions that do not receive as much coverage. He added that, through such promotions, new packages and products could be created. “It is fantastic to have to work with destinations management companies more intensively, to build new routes and products. When we get this to the market together with the tourist board, and having promotions and roadshows, then we will double the tourist figures in 2030.”

Some of the critical issues that came out included the unabridged birth certificate issue, lack of German-speaking tour guides and the need for new product offerings for the market.

South African Ambassador to Austria, Rapulane Sydney Molekane, said he was impressed with the way tour operators in Austria were committed to promoting South Africa. “These guys are very committed. They love selling the products we have. We heard it from them; we need to expand the products and give them new products and not concentrate only on the well-known places.”

He said, with government doing its part in settling some of the barriers to travel, such as concerns around personal safety and an uncertain political climate, selling the country to Austrians would be easier. “We had a group of honest and sincere tour operators that are concerned about few things. With a little push from our side we can sell some of these other beautiful (hidden) gems we have throughout the country.”

The South African team will head to Germany next for the third and final leg of the Central European Roadshow, followed by a trip to the United Kingdom.