South Africa Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk is currently on a two-day visit to India to promote South Africa as a tourism destination and highlight the potential and importance of India as a source market for tourism to South Africa.
Speaking at a networking event in Mumbai on Sunday, Van Schalkwyk said: “The number of Indian tourists travelling from India to South Africa has steadily increased by over 122 percent between 2005 and 2010 and South Africa is continuing to attract Indian tourists in great numbers – with 67 039 Indian tourists travelling to South Africa between January and September 2011, 29% more than over the same period in 2010.”
Van Schalkwyk said South Africa’s world renowned events and lifestyle offerings have proven to strike a chord with the Indian traveller who is eager to experience a unique and varied destination with a wide range of choices to suit every budget.
“The importance of India as a source market for South Africa cannot be underscored as India is an emerging travel market with massive growth potential. India’s economic growth is also expected to continue over the next 40 years and by 2050, India is expected to be among the top-three global economies,” he said.
India is ranked 7th in overseas top 20 source markets for South African Tourism. Rising incomes, changing attitudes and a desire to travel abroad increase demand for outbound travel.
Since 2005, South African Tourism has been promoting the destination very successfully in India.
Air connectivity between the two countries is also good, with South African Airways operating four frequencies a week, while Jet Airways operates five times a week. There are also daily flights from eight different cities via Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
More good news is that South Africa recently won the bid to host the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) Convention which attracts an average of 1 000 delegates, excluding accompanying parties.
The conference serves as a platform for professional development, tourism information and intelligence exchange as well as a super familiarisation trip where delegates get to explore the tourism potential and attractions of the hosting region.
This will be held in KwaZulu-Natal in November this year. The TAFI Convention is a major milestone and the first of landmark events following the alliance formed between TAFI and Southern Africa Tourism Association (SATSA), and it will give the Indian Travel fraternity great exposure to South Africa. South Africa is also bidding to host the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) Convention in 2013.
SATSA is currently in the process of training over 1 000 Indian travel agents and tour operators to ensure they have the necessary skills and experience to sell South Africa.