South African Tourism has become an associate member of the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas) to capitalise on growing demand for holidays since the country moved off the UK’s red list earlier this month.
The tourist board will have a presence at the Atas conference in Birmingham (October 19-20) as part of its strategy to highlight the destination’s attractions to travel agents.
Kgomotso Ramothea, acting hub head in the UK and Ireland for South African Tourism, said she and her colleagues were “over the moon” that South Africa was removed from the red list.
“We are ready with our Covid secure protocols and variety of experiences and cannot wait to welcome back British holidaymakers ahead of the summer season,” she said.
The UK has traditionally been South Africa’s biggest source market for overseas and leisure arrivals.
In 2019 the destination welcomed almost 467,000 British travellers, up 1.4% year-on-year.
The impact of the pandemic means that it is targeting just over 84,000 for its 2021-22 financial year.
Ramothea said Atas is “the perfect association for us, as adventure resonates strongly with South Africa”.
“We have everything from gentle hiking trails in the Drakensberg Mountains to cage diving with great white sharks in the Western Cape and experiencing dune boarding in the Eastern Cape,” she added.
“We want to use our membership to connect with agents who sell adventure travel and help promote an inclusive recovery for our operators in South Africa.
“Also, we are extremely excited about attending the conference, which we know is a fantastic event.”
Commenting on the role of UK agents, she said: “The importance of travel agents cannot be overstated, they are trusted members of the tourism value chain who not only have expert knowledge, but they also play a key role in reassuring travellers when they book their holidays.
“This is especially important during this time when travellers need to know that they will be safe and that their holidays are protected.”
Furthermore, she said the touring and adventure travel sector is important as it allows the tourist board to showcase a wider range of experiences which benefits more communities.
Steve Balderston, trade trainer, will be at the Atas conference “to send a clear message” that South Africa is open for business.
He will be showcasing wine and food and – to celebrate the red list removal – there will be prizes on offer for agents to win.
Also, he can highlight the range of direct flights from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to Cape Town and Johannesburg, and indirect services via other African destinations or the Middle East.
Balderston is available for agents to conduct face-to-face or webinar training and the tourist board has a dedicated trade website and Facebook page for agents.
Claire Brighton, Atas account director, commented: “We are delighted to welcome South African Tourism as an associate member. The timing is ideal, as they can capitalise on the opening up of travel as well as join us in person for our conference.
“We’ve had a flurry of new members joining us in recent weeks as tour operators and tourist boards prepare to take advantage of the easing of restrictions and surging demand from agents who have seen rising enquiries from their customers.”