Among the many international markets eyeing Indian visitors to boost tourism is South Africa, which expects double-digit growth in arrivals from India in 2022 over 2021.
South Africa aims to attract close to 29,000 Indian visitors in 2022, a 64 percent year-on-year increase over 2021, said Neliswa Nkani, hub head, MEISEA, South African Tourism.
“India is our seventh largest international source market and is one of the top three focus markets for South African Tourism globally. A large portion of Indian arrivals into South Africa are from Mumbai (48 percent), New Delhi (26 percent) and Bengaluru (9 percent),” Nkani told Moneycontrol.
She added that travellers from Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata too contribute in a big way. “Ahmedabad, Goa, Chandigarh and key cities in Kerala are fast emerging traveller markets for us,” she added.
The country, which had recorded close to 100,000 Indian visitors in 2019, is expecting to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023-2024.
“Earlier this year, we outlined a strategic roadmap to garner increased Indian visitation in 2022. With over 4,600 Indian visitors travelling to South Africa during January and February 2022, we are on track to achieve or even surpass these targets, especially with the opening up of international air routes and easing of travel restrictions,” said Nkani.
She added that the lifting of travel restrictions and resumption of international flights is boosting outbound travel intent. “At present, there are several stopover flights from India to South Africa, including Emirates, Air Seychelles, Qatar Airways, Etihad, RwandAir, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways. We expect more air partners to come on board through the course of the year and will also be introducing special fare deals with airlines soon.”
To boost travel from India, South African Tourism had recently launched its More and More campaign, followed by a four-city roadshow, SATTE (South Asia’s Travel & Tourism Exchange) 2022. In addition, two months ago the country held a consumer activation (exhibition) in Mumbai. “We are witnessing an uptick in demand for the destination (South Africa). Over 7,000 visas have been issued from Delhi and Mumbai until now this year,” she said.
Focus on film and MICE tourism
Nkani noted that for South African Tourism film and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism are the segments in focus this year.
“In fact, in the last three to five months, we have seen huge interest from film production companies. We have been in talks with a couple of big banners in India to launch South Africa on the silver screen, either by way of Bollywood movies, web series or advertisement shoots. We look at assisting our partners with securing easy shoot permits as well as advantageous and competitive pricing,” she said.
With corporate travel also seeing a recovery after the COVID-19 impact over the last two years, Nkani pointed out that they have multiple groups travelling to South Africa in the next quarter. “We have also been receiving long lead enquiries from group sizes varying from 2,000 to 4,000.
Additionally, we anticipate bookings from the financial, information technology, beauty, insurance, coal and mining, pharmaceutical, entertainment and sporting sectors in India.”
She added that the target segments for South Africa in terms of travellers coming from India are experience-seeking millennials, high net-worth individuals and the family-oriented middle class. “These are anticipated to be the driving force behind travel recovery. We also expect to see a rise in FITs (free independent travellers), drivecations, honeymooners and travellers from niche communities.”
Nkani said, “South Africa has no restrictions for tourists. The country never closed its doors to Indian travellers during the pandemic. Travellers from India to South Africa will be required to produce either a fully vaccinated certificate or a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test not older than 72 hours from the time of departure,” she added.
The South African Tourism official also shared information about visa offerings for Indians. “We are currently processing Indian tourist and business visas on priority. At present, travellers can apply via VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) or can directly apply online for our e-visas, which are being piloted in India.”
She added that stamped passports are available within seven working days or less from the date of application. “There is no visa fee for Indian nationals. However, the VFS logistics fee to process visas from Mumbai and Delhi is Rs 2,040, and Rs 2,301 to process visas from Gurgaon, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Goa,” Nkani said.