South Africa is a key travel destination for tourists from its fellow emerging national economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, together known by the acronym Brics, according to a number of international buyers who will be jetting into Durban next weekend for the Tourism Indaba.
Harmandeep Singh Anand, the managing director of Indian company Jagsons Travels, expects the number of Indian tourists to South Africa to increase over the next few years as the political relationship between the countries improves and freedom of travel increases.
“We are promoting good numbers,” said Anand. “There are much better numbers to South Africa compared with last season, with longer itineraries.”
Christina Kler, business development executive for Brazilian travel company Designer Tours, said South Africa was one of its major travel destinations.
“South Africa is an amazing country that surprises everyone,” said Kler. “There is so much to do. As they say: ‘A world in one country.’”
Jagsons Travels has been in business since 1978 and is one of central India’s leading tour operators.
The 2015 Tourism Indaba will be Anand’s first, although his joint managing director attended about five years ago. That visit increased the company’s outbound traffic to South Africa and Kenya, as it enhanced Jagsons Travels’ knowledge of products and services.
But this will not be Anand’s first visit to the country. He has previously been a tourist in South Africa, experiencing Johannesburg, Sun City and Cape Town on a number of occasions.
“Cape Town was amazing and a must-visit,” he said. “We have started to promote a five-night stay, on average, in Cape Town as part of our itineraries,” he explained.
This year, Anand will be attending the indaba with the aim of improving his own knowledge.
“The Tourism Indaba is an important trade show for the region, as it gives us much-needed exposure and enhances our knowledge of the products and offerings from South Africa and other African nations, some of which we plan to include in our itineraries in the coming period,” Anand explained. He has already prescheduled about 10 meetings per day for his trip to Durban.
Designer Tours has been running since 1986 and specialises in “exotic destinations”, according to Kler.
“We are the top seller in Brazil for luxury honeymoons and weddings,” said Kler. “South Africa is a wonderful honeymoon destination for those who seek adventure.”
Kler noted Designer Tours was a regular at the indaba and it had always been a “good fair” where you could “find what is interesting in just one place”.
She would be meeting with existing partners but was also looking for something new in destinations such as Mozambique and Zanzibar.
“The first time I attended, it was such a good surprise,” she said. “So many interesting products are present.”
According to her, the indaba now has a lot more competition from other African trade shows, such as ILTM Africa, We Are Africa and WTM Africa.
“Each one has a different personality,” said Kler. “It is quite difficult to know which one suits what you are looking for; some are good for luxury products, such as ILTM, while others offer high-end experiences, such as We Are Africa.
“This will be my first indaba since all these other fairs started. But when I was booking my appointments for indaba, I found almost everyone I was looking for,” she added.
Kler said South Africa offered many options for all kinds of budgets.
“You can find extreme luxury and also options for backpackers with quite good quality and cost,” she said.
According to Kler, most Brazilians visited South Africa for wildlife safaris, and the country was also well known for its wines, food and other wildlife experiences – such as whale watching in Plettenberg Bay, diving with white sharks and the Garden Route.
So what are the key issues negatively impacting tourism trade with Brazil and India?
Anand said visa regulations remained the biggest issue for his company.
“Last season there were major visa-issuance delays and some of the new visa rules should definitely go, as they impact on the number of tourists applying for visas on shorter lead times,” said Anand.
Kler added that reports of Ebola outbreaks in west Africa had been the biggest negative in selling South Africa as a tourist destination to Brazilians