South African (SA) Tourism recently conducted a focused road show to reconnect and further strengthen ties with the trade. The roadshow featured product lines across specialisations, namely DMCs, airlines, luxury resorts, hotels, attractions etc. The tourism board lead by Neliswa Nkani, hub head, MEISEA, South African Tourism, was articulate and forthcoming in her speech and showed commitment to provide the trade with seamless visa experiences and service. She has been newly appointed to take on the role and has lined up some concrete plans to strengthen ties between the two countries in the tourism space. She is keen to strongly bring in and open up new tourism areas of the region. The board has identified some accredited tour operators, who will have a rather direct connect with the visa team and also work closely with SA tourism if they face any bottlenecks with visa services. Further, her focus is also to showcase the East of Cape and the Kwazulu-Natal region for the India market amidst others. She feels these destinations have a lot to offer that will resonate with the India market.
Speaking at the occasion and in an exclusive with Express TravelWorld, Nkani, said, “India and South Africa have a deep connect. I am extremely excited about the India market and we value our Indian travelers. South Africa has always been open for business and Indians have found the place interesting for business and well as leisure. For me India is home away from home. I am keen to offer my Indian trade partners a rather seamless visa experience. We are also hoping for improved air connectivity between the countries and direct flights. This will provide a major boost to tourism even further. We are also keen to introduce newer regions for our India partners.” South African Tourism has been working closely with the Consulate General of South Africa in Mumbai to introduce an updated visa procedure. Consul General Maropene Ramokgopa said, “In an effort to ease visa procedures, the Consulate of South Africa is working in close association with South African Tourism. We are collaborating to accredit select travel agents and tour operators to allow fast-tracking visa applications from preferred partners. We ensure a quick turnaround time of 5-7 days which is a lot shorter than some of our competitors”
Adding further light on the road show, SA tourism aims to surpass the target of 100,000 Indian visitors to South Africa in the current year. 56-member South African trade delegation, that included 6 new SMMEs, reiterated the tourism board’s emphasis on expanding the destination and product offering. As per statistics from the board, for the period of January to September 2018, Mumbai contributed 45 percent to the overall Indian arrivals to South Africa while Delhi was at 17.4 percent, Chennai at 7.7 percent and Kolkata at 1.6 percent. Over 1300 Indian travel agents attended the interactive roadshow sessions to better synergize and address the ever evolving demands of the Indian traveller. With 86,405 arrivals as of November 2018, the destination board shared a positive outlook for the Indian market, noting that as of June 2018, total spend by Indian travellers in South Africa had increased by 20 percent and that there was an upswing in the average length of stay (+7.7 percent) and total bed nights (+4 percent).
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