Irish visitor numbers to South Africa increased by 18.3% in 2016 to 30,545, and by another 3.1% in the January-October 2017 period. “Hello Ireland – We Are Back” was the message from Tolene van der Merwe, Hub Head UK & Ireland, South African Tourism, for travel trade and media at a presentation and wine tasting in Dublin.
“We now have a dedicated Irish budget and, in addition to more partnership and consumer marketing, we will be doing more training, fam trips and media hostings,” she said.
Heading up Training in the SAT London office team is Alexandra Stoilkova, while Bonnie-Sue O’Garey takes care of Trade Relations and Rachel Lewis looks after Campaign and Partnerships.
Directly addressing the current issue of water shortages in Cape Town, Tolene said: “It is important to remember that South Africa in general is a water-scarce country, and we ask travellers to be mindful of this, but Cape Town is open for business, while the Cape Overberg and the Garden Route are less impacted by water restrictions.
“The UK and Ireland are key markets for South Africa, the UK being our number one source of international arrivals and Ireland representing a fantastic opportunity for growth,” she added. “Following an incredibly successful year in 2017, we wil be continuing to work closely with members of the UK and Irish travel trade through training workshops, takeover days, familiarisation trips and running our fourth year of SATSchool to help us achieve our over-arching global goal of attracting five million more tourists to South Africa within the next five years.”
A highlight of 2017 was the third year of the South African Tourism School from 13th – 16th November, a ‘one-stop shop’ training platform aimed at equipping travel agents with all the information they need to sell the destination – from the unique selling points, the latest news, and how to answer customer questions. The roadshow took place in Cork, Manchester, Birmingham and London, with key partners including British Airways, local area tourist organisations such as Cape Town Tourism, Visit Knysna, Eastern Cape Tourism, and attractions and experiences such as Ocean Blue Adventures and Monkeyland / Birds of Eden.
SAT’s travel trade strategy for 2018 will include an increased presence within the UK and Ireland, focused on the return of SATSchool in November 2018, further training events, roadshows, workshops and hosted agent fam trips. South African Tourism will also be launching trade-specific social media channels to provide an instant source of information and communication exclusively to its trade partners.
“This year is also Mandela 100, the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela on 18th July 1918, with events throughout the year,” added Tolene. Mandela Day each 18th July commemorates the lifetime of service that Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world.