Friday, 12 August 2022 16:17

West African source market has untapped potential

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There is “huge potential” for growth in tourism numbers from the West African market and South African product owners could lose out if they don’t leverage this potential.

This was the message from Thekiso Rakolojane, Regional Head: West Africa for South African Tourism when he sat down for an interview with Tourism Update recently.

According to him, in 2018, 54 000 Nigerians visited South Africa, spending a total of R15bn (€882m). “The average spend was R30 000 a day.”

That same year, 21 000 travellers from Ghana spent R850 000 (€50 000) in SA.

At Africa’s Travel Indaba – held in Durban in May this year – 10 travel and tourism media from West Africa were hosted and, according to Rakolojane, all said there was massive demand and interest in travel to South Africa from the region.

“The close proximity to South Africa is a major drawcard, the fact that it is a relatively affordable destination and travellers love the luxury of Cape Town and the winelands and the shopping in Johannesburg,” he said, noting that SAA allowed Nigerian travellers to carry three pieces of luggage to accommodate the purchases.

Rakolojane said the average length of stay in South Africa for West African travellers was five to 10 days. “Mostly it is families or couples who travel for leisure and they are interested in a variety of experiences but pay special attention to good cuisine.”

He said the market was also conscious of pricing and tended to stick with hotels that offered value and catered for families. “Add-ons are also important. For example, a Sandton-based hotel has a relationship with Sandton City shopping centre and they provide a shopping voucher as an incentive.”

Rakolojane noted that word of mouth was also key for this market. “If they’ve had a good travel experience, they will definitely share this.”

One of the biggest obstacles to growth was airlift, he said. There are currently flights available to OR Tambo International Airport on SAA (three a week), Air Peace (two a week) – although these are currently suspended from August 22 until October 8 – and Emirates (out of Lagos and Abidjan) but not enough to meet the potential increase in demand, said Rakolojane.

Source: TU

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