‘Leave the ordinary behind’

2012-05-10 00:00

SOUTH Africa should be wary of focusing on price when targeting the international tourist market.

The country should instead market its unique experiences on offer, while also being mindful of the emerging global trends in tourism.

These are the key messages from a top tourism executive who believes that emerging markets like India, China, Brazil and Argentina are increasingly becoming vital sources of tourists for the country.

Danny Bryer, director of sales, marketing and revenue management at Protea Hotels, told The Witness that while South Africa must remain price competitive, establishments should not be caught in a race to the bottom in terms of pricing.

Bryer said: “This is not about overcharging. South Africa is a key destination to travel to; it offers a unique experience, and caters for all markets.”

His comments come on the eve of the Tourism Indaba, a major international industry trade event to be held in Durban from Saturday to Tuesday

He said the country should capitalise on key marketing messages like “leave the ordinary behind” and “have a unique experience”.

While the bulk of international tourists to South Africa come from Europe and other developed regions, tourists from developing markets are visiting the country in greater numbers.

“When you look at the new emerging markets, countries like Argentina and Brazil offer huge opportunities.

“However, this is subject to SAA [South African Airways] getting their seat capacity correct,” said Bryer.

China and India were major growth areas for tourism.

“With regard to China, [their] tourists are willing to travel anywhere in the world. Seat capacity is still an issue. This must be at its optimum.

“Many prefer to travel in incentive groups, like company incentives.

“Tourists from India consist mainly of independent travellers, families and incentive groups.”

There was also an increase in tourism from other African countries.

A trend that had gained popularity was that of “shopper tourists”, and this was true of many tourists from neighbouring countries in Southern Africa.

Bryer said South Africa should re-focus its approach to the European market, particularly when it came to courting tourists through new online platforms and sources.

Another interesting emerging category was what he called the “new age” tourist. Many tourists were looking for experiences other than the usual hot-spots.

“They are looking for exciting experiences, from rock climbing to shark cage diving, green destinations and social experiences. These are new adventure experiences.

“We also need to focus on what the average traveller will look like in five years’ time.”

 

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