‘India needs to work on its brand image to attract more tourists’
Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager India, South African Tourism, picks out similarities between South Africa and India and how both can work towards increasing tourism. In the city for the seventh edition of South Africa Tourism Board’s annual travel trade training sessions in Pune, Hanneli Slabber speaks to HT on key pointers essential for tourism and more.pune Updated: Jul 30, 2017 15:21 IST
How have Indians helped in South Africa’s tourism?
India and Bollywood love Cape Town. It is like what Taj Mahal is for India. Our internal target is to welcome more than 1,00,000 Indian visitors in 2017 and we couldn’t be more thrilled to work towards and achieve this target. Indian leisure visitor numbers to South Africa surged 21.7% during 2016 to close at an arrivals figure of 95,377 and 8th position among South Africa’s international source markets. This is vis-à-vis 78,385 arrivals in 2015. 2016 also saw the overall spends from India (only in-country on-tour spends excluding flights and attractions, hotels booked in advance) crossed an astounding 1.2 billion ZAR by the year end. Pune has been identified as one of the emerging source markets driving tourist traffic to South Africa. Pune is part of the six city cluster which makes up 17% of India’s ultra Ultra High Networth Households.
What are the key pointers for tourism essentials in a country?
The first and the foremost has to be accessibility, we have been trying to achieve that, considering there are no direct flights from India to South Africa. The second has to be immigration, which again we are trying to bring in e-visa to simplify the process. The third essential is local food and language, you have to have the local food of tourists, for example we have over 300 Indian restaurants and tour guides who are fluent in Tamil, Hindi and Gujarati.
What more can India do to become a more tourist-friendly nation?
South Africa and India are in the same boat when it comes to their image portrayed across the globe. India needs to work on its image creation and spreading awareness. When I came to India years ago, I felt cheated to not find snake-charmers. So, people have preconceived notions about the country. We need to get rid of these notions and showcase the actual beauty of this place. The other thing is, during vacations, places like Goa become expensive for South African families to visit. The cost equals to a vacation in Maldives!