GEORGE NEWS - Officials of George Municipality represented the tourism sector for the second consecutive year at the South African Tourism (Sat) Road Show in India during January.
This year, participating exhibitors were given the opportunity to also attend Satte, South Asia's leading tourism trade show.
Both Satte and the Sat Road Show were well attended, and interest in the Garden Route remains strong.
The South African Tourism road show started with Satte in New Delhi, then travelled to Bangalore, Pune and ended in Mumbai. At Satte, the South African Tourism stand was incredibly full throughout the show, and there was a lot of new interest from tour operators who have not yet entered the market but have received requests from their clients to travel to South Africa. They needed assistance in learning what George and Wilderness have to offer, and Tourism will be connecting with them in the coming weeks to provide supplier lists filtered for their requirements, as well as professional imagery to assist them in marketing the destination.
There were 463 trade visitors to the South African Tourism Road Show, with high level decision makers such as directors, partners and owners in attendance. New Delhi and Mumbai were the busiest areas with exceptional interest coming from trade. The Garden Route is a firm favourite for most established operators and they sought new information about what the area offers, as well as assistance in finding three to five-star accommodation for tour groups, and scenic experiences. Food remains a challenge as half reported that Indians only want to eat Indian food.
Tourism manager Joan Shaw appeals to the local restaurant trade to tap into this market. "There is an opportunity for local restaurants ... if they are willing to adapt. Indians do not eat beef, and many are also vegetarian. Work with tour operators and local accommodation to package a menu offering for Indian groups, so that we can keep this market in our destination longer, and service them better than our competitors."
The road show also provided an opportunity to network with South African operators and destination management companies to educate them about what the area offers. Top participants included Thompsons, Springbok Atlas, Africa Incoming, African Pride Tours, Tourvest, Albatros Travel and Royal African Discoveries.
Other exhibitors marketing the Garden Route area included an adventure group from Mossel Bay branded as "Garden Route Tourism", as well as the Diaz Hotel. Wesgro, Gauteng Tourism Authority, Kwa-Zulu Natal Tourism, Durban Tourism and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency were other tourism authorities exhibiting at the road show.
India is a target country identified by South African Tourism and included in the George Municipality Tourism Strategy as a key market to combat seasonality over winter months. Indian travellers to South Africa usually peak during May. Many leading tourism businesses in George and Wilderness accommodate this market, and marketing has continued to protect and grow the market share.
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