SA Specialist, South African Tourism’s fun and interactive online learning programme, has witnessed an increase in the number of Indian travel trade undertaking the training. Trade agents are using the lockdown period to upskill and reskill themselves as South Africa, is one of the most sought after outbound destination by Indian travellers.
According to South African Tourism, March 2020 recorded the highest number of Essential Graduates from the programme in 9 years – since 2011! The first half of April 2020 saw 486 graduates, the third largest since 2011.
Commenting on the importance of trade training during this lull period, Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – MEISEA, South African Tourism said, “We are proud that the travel fraternity as always has shown resilience, and is taking proactive steps to turn a global crisis into a learning opportunity by educating and upskilling themselves. It gives me great pleasure to share that in less than 4 months of 2020, the SA Specialist programme saw 1,161 new registrations from India, with 672 graduates thus far! Indian registrations account for nearly 1/3rd of our global registrations for 2020.
Since 2013, India has had the highest number of SA Specialists after South Africa – this is a proud accomplishment for the region. We are certain that the hunger for learning, creativity and enthusiasm fostered by the Indian industry will go a long way in ensuring a positive turn for both, international and domestic travel sectors, once the global situation stabilizes. We extend our complete support to all our trade partners, and continue to stand in solidarity with the industry during these testing times.”
The SA Specialist Programme, was created to assist travel agents to become an authority on South Africa and its attractions, to better sell the country as a holiday destination and to enhance their earning potential. This interactive learning experience is designed to improve the trade agent’s knowledge of South Africa and equip them with the skills to sell South Africa as a tourist destination; in essence, participants become an expert on South African travel, giving them the opportunity to market themselves as such and to improve the level of service they give to clients.
Through the SA Specialist programme agents can become a South African Tourism-accredited travel specialist who has the knowledge to sell South Africa as a destination. They are also entered into the South African Tourism (SAT) database of SAT Specialists, thus improving their marketability. Qualified agents will receive a certificate confirming that they have successfully completed the relevant course, and will be entitled to use the name 'SA Specialist' or 'South African travel expert' in their marketing materials.
As a goodwill gesture, South African Tourism also sends a fun South African goodie bag to agents who complete all 7 courses.
From January to December 2019, the destination welcomed 95,621 Indian visitors to South Africa – a 2.3% YoY increase. The average length of stay saw an 8% YoY increase in the first half of 2019 from 25 nights to 27 nights. Total Indian traveller spends in the first half of 2019 were at a 4-year high, with South African Tourism achieving 64% of its annual spends target within this period!