I have always been proud of the cultural diversity of our people which makes up the great melting pot that we call the “Rainbow Nation”. It appears that it’s not only the diversity of our cultures though that makes us great, but the diversity of our travel experiences could be making travel to South Africa so much more than just a safari experience and greatly boost our tourist trade. The primary destinations that international travellers choose to travel to in Africa are The Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls and Cape Town. It’s pretty impressive that we in South Africa have two of these, but we have so much more. We can’t discourage people from wanting a safari, and neither should we, but there is a huge opportunity here to showcase different cities, cultures and travel experiences that many foreign travellers don’t know about.
Luxury and diversity
I was at a local travel Indaba recently with New Frontiers Tours, our BidTravel Inbound brand, where SA Tourism hosted international buyers, and I was pleasantly surprised after the event to see a Skift (The international travel publication) article that mentioned it and spoke about the diversity and luxury of the offerings that Cape Town has that have now made it a longer stay destination. In the words of the article, “Time, the ability to rest and the opportunity to fully immerse oneself in a destination, all point to the ultimate luxury of travel itself, shifting the typical itinerary offering for countries across the African continent. For one, it’s caused a significant increase in the average nights spent in Cape Town as a destination….the average stay in Cape Town has shifted from 2 to 3 nights to as much 6 to 8 nights per visit to the city”.
Yes, there is no doubt that Cape Town, with its huge diversity of beaches, Table Mountain, hiking and extreme sports experiences and of course the magnificent winelands does offer a great chance for foreigners to spend more time there. Cape Town is a great example, but it’s not the only South African attraction that could lure travellers into a longer stay.
The iconic travel destinations
We have wonderful cultural experiences from the Cradle of Humankind to cultural villages, historic and lifestyle experiences in all our provinces. We have some of the best self-drive experiences in the world too. Route 62 (The longest wine route in the world) and the world-renowned Garden Route from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth are great examples of these. On the Garden Route itself the diversity of experiences is staggering. From one of the largest ziplines in the world, in the Tsitsikamma forest, to the highest commercial natural Bungee jump in the world at Bloukrans Bridge – to the wonderful seaside towns dotted all along the way, all with their unique attractions and character, the Garden Route offers a world of vacation experiences in one. From incredible hiking experiences on the Robberg trail near Plettenberg Bay and the magnificent Drakensberg mountains to breathtaking sightseeing experiences like the Blyde river canyon and God’s window, the possibilities are endless when travelling in S.A.
Unique and diverse we have it all!
Of all the African countries that offer great wildlife experiences no other country can offer the “perfect pairing” of a Safari and a diverse vacation experience like South Africa can. Trends have shown that people are spending longer times away than they were in the past and when visiting Africa, having already spent a lot of time and money on flights, they also want to spend more money on their stay. It’s up to us to ensure that they want to be here longer to do it.
Ola Joseph said “Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness”. Just as we embrace the diversity of our people, let’s embrace the uniqueness of what we as a country have to offer the world so our visitors will stay a little longer – and most importantly return again and again!
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER