International tourism must be recognised as core industry, experts say

Posted by Anita Froneman on 7 October 2020

It’s no secret that the tourism and travel industries are struggling to keep their heads above water. Many stakeholders say their main source of income depends on visitors from countries that are currently banned from entering South Africa. Citizens from countries that are not banned might also be discouraged from travelling by their governments, and so the list of obstacles goes on.

The one thing all stakeholders agree on, however is that it is imperative for tourism to be recognized as a core industry that eventually has a ripple effect on the wellbeing of the whole country. Angelica Muñoz Cordoba, director and founder of Cape Town-based travel agency Ates Africa shared her thoughts. 

International tourism must be recognised as core industry, experts say

Stakeholders in the travel industry say the sector must be recognized as a prominent aspect of the country with a very high multiplier effect for the whole economy.

Is there much interest from abroad for travel to South Africa?

Some of our regularly returning guests and companies we work with are still planning to come, and we have received requests for quotes from new contacts. But, as experienced in other countries, owing to the uncertainty on current situations in South Africa – eg. borders opening and airlines that would be operating – as well as changing conditions pertaining to their home countries, many people are unfortunately not comfortable to travel yet.

What makes South Africa a valuable holiday destination?

In our experience, clients love South Africa for its good value offer of wildlife viewing, extreme adventure, very diverse scenery and wide biodiversity. It is also rich in iconic and contrasting places of history, and a variety of accommodation on offer from internationally branded deluxe hotels, to smart boutique hotels and tented camps.

What are the most popular kinds of trips for international tourists?

We have mainly been working in two distinct market segments: students who come in big groups wanting a lot of fun, adventure/adrenalizing activities and learning about the country; and then the luxury-demanding travelers who like to feel spoilt and experience the quiet and calm environments or the culture.

Within these two market segments, we have found safaris is the most popular coupled with adventure and cultural/historical activities. Guests usually come wanting their African experience to have at least two contrasting aspects.

How will the future look for international travel?

We have adopted the attitude of being positive. We will do what we consider best regarding issues that we can control and we will be open to adaptation regarding changes which are upcoming and beyond our control.

It seems logical that for socio-economic and socio-ecological reasons there will be a decrease in international travel. The now-proven effectiveness of communication on virtual platforms could continue to impact institutional, business and personal demand for international travel.

What will it take to revive South Africa’s tourism industry?

In our view, the primary requirement for moving South Africa’s tourism industry out of its slump is the recognition within all levels of government and by the private financial sector that tourism is a core industry with a very high multiplier effect for the whole economy.

This will result in a much-needed closer consultation and collaboration with tourism industry representative bodies in the formulation of relevant policies and its effective implementation.

What are some of the trips you offer?

For first-time travellers we are offering the must-do places combined with out-of-the-ordinary experiences such us visiting lesser-known places, contact with locals and education about culture.

We also offer safaris, cultural and historical tours, culinary tours, combos of adventure and culture, multi-day hiking and city visits, and special experiences for honeymoons.

We operate not only in South Africa but also in the southern African countries where guests may either want to visit the quiet place and admire the stars, dunes, mountains or any other kind for the nature lovers.

For more information, visit Ates Africa here or email [email protected]

Also read:

New approach proposed for international leisure travellers

Picture: Unsplash

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