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 commitment to enhancing destination marketing support in India, which has consistently been among the top 10 source markets for South Africa.
The delegation shared a positive outlook for the Indian market, noting that as of June 2018, total spend by Indian travellers in South Africa had increased by 20 per cent and that there was an upswing in the average length of stay (+7.7 per cent) and total bed nights (+four per cent).
“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, Ntshona 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 five million additional visitors, including four 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 continuing 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, Ramokgopa 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 five to seven 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.