Destination Mzansi: Netflix content whets tourists’ appetite for SA – report

After exposure to South African content on Netflix, viewers were more than three times more likely to consider the country their top travel destination.

The Netflix exposure has sparked niche tourism offerings like “marine safaris”, including kelp forest snorkelling.

This is one of the findings of the Africa Travel Week Trends report released this week during World Travel Market Africa, which took place in Cape Town the past week.

Africa Travel Week (ATW) is one of the biggest tourism trade shows in SA. It includes World Travel Market (WTM) Africa; the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM); Equal Africa (which brings together suppliers, buyers, and brands marketing to the LGBTQ+ community); the Africa Tourism Investment Summit (ATIS); and the Responsible Tourism Africa Conference.  

Last year’s Africa Travel Week welcomed 6 200 visitors, hosted more than 7 000 meetings, 384 exhibiting companies, and 500 buyers. Pre-pandemic, the event sealed deals worth around US$451 000 million and led to the creation of more than 3 000 jobs. 

This year the sub-event World Travel Market (WTM) Africa had more than 7 000 delegates from more than 100 countries and more than 9 000 pre-scheduled meetings. In its almost 10-year existence, foreign delegates at WTM Africa contributed nearly R200 million in direct spend to Cape Town’s economy. 

According to Carol Weaving, managing director of RX Africa, which organises Africa Travel, it is pretty much back to its pre-pandemic size. Buyers from 49 countries were in attendance.

“Tourism is bouncing back with safaris and other leisure tourism being key drivers and mountaineering becoming more popular,” says Weaving. “Increasingly popular trends include responsible and sustainable tourism. International tourists want to know they are ‘travelling light’. 

The report found that eco-conscious travellers now choose to travel almost luggage-free to reduce CO² emissions. Many purchase holiday clothing and essentials from local suppliers and donate these items to charities and communities in need before their return flight. 

The trade show included sustainable aspects like the name badges of delegates being made of paper containing vegetable seeds that can be planted.

Adventure tourism is also gaining momentum, according to Weaving.

During the event, the industry body South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), released its Adventure Tourism Self-Regulation Roadmap and Code of Good Practice documents for public comment.

The draft documents were developed in consultation with industry stakeholders. It aims to provide a framework for adventure tourism operators to operate responsibly and sustainably while promoting growth and development in the adventure tourism industry.

A deep dive into the big business story of the week, as well as expert analysis of markets and trends.

“There has always been a significant interest in SA and Africa. The weaker rand is also working in the local industry’s favour.

“SA is a beautiful country with everything a leisure tourist wants. Many tourists like to visit SA for a safari and then also travel to other southern African countries, like visiting Victoria Falls,”

“Visitors from other African countries usually like to come to SA for shopping.”

says Weaving

Another trend identified by the report is the untapped potential of accessible travel, given that 1.3 billion people, or 16% of the world’s population, live with disabilities. 

Safaris and other travel experiences are becoming more accessible to people with disabilities, with a multi-sensory approach that capitalises on other senses like hearing, smelling, and tasting, according to the report. Another market segments with potential to explore are faith-based tourism, digital nomads who can work from anywhere, and the LGBTQ+ market.

Small businesses

The Department of Tourism has once again supported, through funding, 30 small to medium enterprises to showcase at World Travel Market Africa, Minister of Tourism Patricia de Lille said at the opening of WTM Africa.

She said that, since the start of the department’s market access programme, 410 SMMEs received support to participate at international trade platforms, and 577 were supported to participate at South African travel trade shows.

Cape Town’s deputy mayor, Eddie Andrews, agrees that the event provides a great platform for SMMEs in the travel industry looking to access international travel buyers. This city’s tourism framework also assists SMMEs with marketing support and industry networking opportunities.

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