The minister of tourism, South Africa, Derek Hanekom, visited India to engage with key representatives of the travel and tourism ecosystem in an ongoing effort to strengthen tourism ties between the two nations. Accompanied by Sisa Ntshona, CEO, South African Tourism, and Maropene L Ramokgopa, Consul General, South Africa, the minister reiterated South Africa's commitment to enhance destination marketing support in India, which has consistently been among the top 10 source markets for the country.
The delegation shared a positive outlook for the Indian market, noting that as of June 2018, the total spend by Indian travellers in South Africa had increased by 20% and that there was an upswing in the average length of stay (+7.7%) and total bed nights (+4%).
“We want 2019 to be the year of the great leapfrog for tourism from India. The growth in total spend and the average length of stay signifies that Indians travelling to South Africa are staying longer, exploring more and experiencing newer activities than ever before. This certainly is a positive indicator of the potential growth in the market and gives us the confidence to continue introducing new regions and experiences,” the minister stated.
Reinforcing India as a key source market, Sisa Ntshona, CEO, South African Tourism, added, “India has been a key source market for us and will continue to play a critical role in our long-term vision of attracting 5 million additional visitors, including 4 million international tourists by 2021. We aim to surpass 100,000 visitors from Indian in the current year of 2019. Towards this ambition, we remain committed to continue investing in our promotion and engagement efforts, both with our Indian trade partners and travellers, while bringing diversified products to the market.”
Speaking about new initiatives to ease visa applications, Maropene L Ramokgopa, Consul General, South Africa, said, “The Consulate of South Africa will work closely with South African Tourism to accredit select travel agents and tour operators to allow fast-tracking visa applications from preferred partners. The efforts would seek to further to reduce the time for visa issuance, which is currently, between 5 to 7 days from time of application, while enabling faster turnaround times during peak seasons.”
The minister acknowledged air connectivity as a key driver for outbound travel particularly MICE and business tourism from India. Speaking about direct flights between India and South Africa, the Minister said, “There are currently serious discussions about the possibility of resumption of the direct route.”