Q: Your visit clearly shows how important the Australian market is to South Africa.
A: Towards the end of 2016 we had a revamp of our strategy and set ourselves a very audacious goal of bringing in five million more tourists in the next five years. Australia is one of the key markets for us to realise that five-in-five goal and we are hoping for around 124,000 Australian visitors this year.
One of the levers we have not yet yanked is around the ex-pat communities living in Australia, who can become an extension of South African tourism and ambassadors for the country.
Q: So how will you tap into this resource?
A: We have launched the ‘Come Home Bru’ campaign designed to get ex-pats to talk positively about South Africa. In the Australian market word of mouth is really important so we’re using the 180,000 South Africans living here to market the country for us.
What is very important to SAT is that to win in tourism we have to take all our stakeholders with us, so trade becomes very important, airline partners, the ex-pat community, government and private sector institutions all become important. We also have to look at non-travel businesses to spread the word for us.
Q: How will the ‘Come Home Bru’ campaign work?
A: We have linked it to a movement we have started back home called ‘We Do Tourism’, which encourages all South Africans to do their bit to promote the country. Tourism has been identified as one of the levers for economic growth in our country so everybody in the country has some sort of role to play within tourism and this movement is about saying let’s all work together. We have really positioned tourism at the heart of the development of our country.
Q: And the travel trade here have an important part to play?
A: At SAT our role is to do effective marketing and create demand for South Africa. If there’s no travel trade, people are not going to travel. They provide security and comfort for consumers in that they know the destination so people feel comfortable going to agents to book their travel.
So we have to partner with them but education is also critical. We have to educate them on how to package and sell South Africa. Fam trips become very important because you have to experience a destination in order to sell it.
Q: Does security still remain an issue for Aussies looking at South Africa?
A: What will give travellers comfort is to know that at the helm of government everyone is taking the whole safety and security issue very seriously, because tourism is linked to development, economic growth and job creation.
Q: What does South Africa offer as a holiday destination?
A: At the heart of South Africa is its people and that’s our biggest differentiator. We know when Aussies travel they are looking for immersive experiences and as a destination we pride ourselves on being real. What you see is what you get and it’s not filtered. You’ll see our iconic landscapes, go to the beach or on safari, and meet the people. Once you get there, your life will never be the same again.