Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and British Airways took 25 UK tour operators and travel agents on a tour of KwaZulu-Natal before Indaba.
They split into five groups and covered the north, south and Elephant coasts, Zululand, the battlefields, Berg and the Midlands.
On the eve of Indaba they all met up at the Ushaka Marine World in Durban for a quiz to test their new-found knowledge of the region. Emily Bamber caught up with them and found out what they thought of KwaZulu-Natal and the UK market to Africa.
On: highlights of KwaZulu-Natal
The battlefields were a real highlight, plus the meals in the hotel were amazing. The scenery is stunning and one night we stayed up until 3am staring at the stars.
I’ve been all across Africa and seen some amazing skies, but this was the best star-gazing I’ve done – we saw 22 shooting stars in three hours. KwaZulu-Natal is a real hidden gem that would suit second or third-time visitors to South Africa.
On: KwaZulu-Natal for families
I wouldn’t have thought it would be a place for families but it is – with the game drives and the history. A lot of the accommodation is really geared up for children as well.
Agents should be adventurous and shouldn’t be put off by the long distances between some places, because the scenery and the journey are part of the experience.
On: the KwaZulu-Natal environment
Even though we spent a lot of time on the road, I loved it. The travelling is worth it – the landscape on the way is incredible. The quality of the hotels was better than I expected and the rates are about right. Agents should speak to someone who has been there before they try to put together a package for a client as some places are further away than they might realise.
On: the tourism product in KwaZulu-Natal
Five-star hotels in the UK just don’t compare to five-star hotels in Africa. There is plenty of accommodation for people on a budget; prices are well-pitched and you don’t feel your clients are being ripped off. My advice for other agents selling Africa would be: offer something different, pay attention to detail and offer an individual service.
On: the Africa market
The Africa market is getting more popular including more adventurous holidays to less-visited countries such as Ethiopia and Namibia. We are hearing more about these countries and selling more too. Within South Africa, the family market is really taking off for us. We are finding a lot of people are renting out luxury homes for their whole families.
On: Africa product knowledge
As a team we’re all getting out to Africa more and because of that we are being more adventurous with what we sell. The product is changing all the time, every month somewhere else opens up. Agents need to listen to what the operators are telling them – they know the countries, the dos and don’ts and where to go.
Emily Bamber travelled South African Airways business class from Heathrow to Johannesburg