A large focus area for 2021 will be mobilizing niche communities in India
Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – MEISEA, South African Tourism
With international travel reopening and the hope of a vaccine coming in by early 2021, we at South African Tourism intend to invest in and focus on:
Inspiring consumers to travel again
Consumers will seek assurance and human guidance, as they consider and plan to travel. They should be made well aware of all processes and requirements by the destination or transfer facilities, in order to avoid a mismatch in expectations and allow for smooth journeys.
We have internationally benchmarked bio-safety systems in place at all private game lodges and government-owned national parks, shopping hubs, restaurants and accommodation facilities. These safety initiatives include lesser number of tourists in a safari vehicle to promote social distancing, digital menus, touchless parking, e-payment systems, hand-sanitization and disinfection stations, individually sanitized and packed takeways / room service etc.
Increasing ease and appeal of travel
We are aware of the effect the pandemic has on the global economy, and have been repackaging accordingly, with the intent to offer consumers’ excellent deals and discounts. Safety measures are transparent and well-communicated and have been factored into overall packages, so that there is no surprise or extra-cost to travellers. We are also in conversation with several airlines to figure how we can best optimize and reduce travel costs.
Prior to the pandemic, we announced the rolling out of e-visas for the India market. While pilot runs were on-going, the pandemic hit us, thus delaying the process. We want to assure Indian travellers that we are focused on introducing e-visas as soon as possible, as we want to make it as easy as possible for Indians to come to South Africa.
Promoting New Regions and safe experiences
Given that travellers are predicted to seek offbeat destinations, with good connectivity and a large number of activities within confined areas – we anticipate that South Africa’s new regions and geographies will be a hit with Indian travellers in 2021.
For the next couple of months, travellers can enter through cities that have restored international connectivity, so either through the Mother City – Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban, and use these cities as a gateway to the rest of these picturesque new regions, including the stunning and relatively unexplored Port Elizabeth, Robertson, West Coast, the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal, Panorama Route (Mpumalanga) and Garden Route.
With regards to experiences, we will focus on leveraging the USPs South Africa has for the evolved and cautious post-Covid traveller. For example, the appeal of a safari holiday has increased given its natural ability to support social distancing. With the natural world as its stage, the essence of a safari has not changed. However, guests will experience enhanced sanitization policies, regular temperature checks for guests and staff, smaller camps and smaller game drive groups to ensure social distancing is maintained even in the safari vehicle. These safety and hygiene protocols can be expected across as all adventure, culinary and cultural attractions as well.
Targeting niche communities
A large focus area for 2021 will be mobilizing niche communities in India. We expect self-drives to be popular with Indian travellers given that South Africa has some of the most beautiful self-drive routes in the world. Safe car rentals will play an important role in the tourism ecosystem, as larger numbers of travellers are turning to self-drives for the assurance of privacy and safety. The fact that Indian licenses are valid in South Africa is a huge bonus!
We want to invite biking groups to explore the vast, spectacular South African terrain. We are also looking at having more runners from India participate in uniquely South African ultra-marathons like the Comrades Marathon and the Two Oceans Marathon.
We anticipate that the immersive travel trend will continue in a post-Covid world, with a greater focus on sustainability. This means that travellers will be more conscious of where they spend their money, what kind of accommodation they choose, where they dine, and how they travel locally.
At South African Tourism, we are enhancing efforts to make our itineraries, properties and transport facilities more sustainable. We also intend to showcase our sustainable product offerings and ecotourism experiences, like cycling tours, nature safaris, conservation projects and rural experiences.