Skip to main content

Spanning the breadth of South Africa, 90 Australian and New Zealand travel agents, consumer and trade media, embarked on a series of nine simultaneous familiarisation trips (fam trips) across the country, each led by an ANZ Wholesaler, culminating in a two-day training event at the spectacular Sun City Resort for the South African Tourism’s inaugural Mega Lekker Escape – the name, borne from South African slang meaning very nice or enjoyable. 

Each of the nine groups were designated a team name, emblazoned on T-shirts, and equipped with a mission – to capture their South Africa journey in the most creative way and share with the other groups at the training event as a way to supplement each participants’ first-hand experience with broader product knowledge. And most importantly, for their chance to win some amazing prizes. 

Each of the groups focused on a different region of South Africa to drive geographic spread, and included not only the main tourist attractions, but also the country’s hidden gems – the small, medium and micro business enterprises (SMMEs) and community and conservation experiences – such as turtle tracking at Thonga Beach Lodge or street art walking tours through Johannesburg – with the objective of uplifting communities and extending the opportunities of tourism. 

The lucky winners of this mission were the Rhinos, led by Adventure Destinations, whose video focused on the opportunity to give back through tourism. Their highlights were taking part in rhino notching, a conservation initiative to protect the species, and a tuk tuk tour through Soweto where they discovered their driver himself participated in the Soweto student uprising of 1976. Their winning video was presented, along with all the other very worthy entrants, at the training event’s presentation evening hosted by the undisputed Queen of Zulu Comedy, Celeste Ntuli. 

The two-day training event, comprising 130 delegates with the addition of South African property operators, also included a trivia night, hosted by stand-up comedian Bongani Dube, and set in a Boma – a traditional African outdoor gathering place – which was lit up with lanterns and laughter. 

Delegates also embarked on safari game drives in the Big 5 Pilanesberg Game Reserve, competed in an Amazing Race throughout Sun City, and enjoyed prizes of pampering spas in The Palace of the Lost City’s Royal Spa, while wholesalers and South African operators participated in one-to-one meetings with the objective of expanding wholesalers’ product offerings and enhancing operators’ market access. 

Of this initiative, South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Nombulelo Guliwe, said “In the past we’ve run mega fam trips in South Africa and training roadshows across Australia and New Zealand separately, however there were so many changes to the travel industry in the wake of Covid, with as many as 30% of travel agents new to the industry, we understood it would take a mega undertaking such as this to address knowledge gaps.” 

“In fact, only two of the travel agents taking part in the Mega Lekker Escape had been to South Africa before, and we know the best way for anyone to truly appreciate how exceptional South Africa is, is to experience it. Through this initiative, we sought to equip travel agents with the first-hand experience of the destination that is so critical to building the confidence to sell it, while also hosting media to drive consumer demand for the products the trade had experienced” concluded Guliwe. 

Moreover, this initiative could not have been delivered without, and is thanks to, the participation of South African Tourism’s Australian and New Zealand trade wholesaler partners – Above and Beyond Holidays, Adventure Destinations, Adventure World AU and NZ, MW Tours, The Africa Safari Co., This is Africa, Viva Expeditions and World Journeys.  They were responsible for arranging and hosting the itineraries in South Africa, thus making sure the participants fell in love with the destination. 

To further drive conversion, wholesalers also offered all participating travel agents a cash incentive for booking any trip to South Africa over AUD$10,000 in the first three months following their return.