Cape Town - “Argentinian and Indian visitors to South Africa fly into Cape Town, go up the Garden Route and perhaps as far as a private game reserve in the Eastern Cape. They do not go north, and this is a problem with SAA’s central hub strategy.”
That was the warning sounded by Alan Winde, the Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC, speaking at the Western Cape Tourism Plenary Session in Mossel Bay.
Winde said SAA had pulled its international flights from Cape Town, and other role-players such as Virgin and British Airways “jumped in to fill the gap”.
“SAA’s competitors immediately came in and took up the 5 000 slots. Middle Eastern airlines are also becoming major players. SAA need to rethink their strategy,” he said.
Tourism accounts for 10 percent of the Western Cape’s GDP, and they wanted to push that up to 15 percent.
“There are still big numbers coming into Cape Town from Europe, but the growing market is from the East, particularly from India. We also need to look at the Africa market, we want these tourists,” Winde said.
The plenary session coincided with the Mossel Bay Travel Festival, which partnered with the New York Travel festival this year.. Roni Weiss, the f
ounder of the New York festival and social media guru, said in his keynote address that South Africa’s tourism industry needed to harness the power of social media.
“Facebook has 1.26 billion users, Twitter 218 million monthly active users and 400m tweets a day, and YouTube has 1 billion unique users a month.
“If you are not using these to promote your product, you are missing out,” he said.
The first New York Travel Festival was held in April this year, and Weiss said his goal was to reinvent the traditional consumer travel show, including the use of social media.
“We didn’t pay for any marketing, we did it all by social media. Interaction was big, we concentrated on creating a different vibe with food and drink pairings.
“The companies which took part have already said they are coming back,” he said.
The Mossel Bay Travel Festival used the same model as New York and, in a first for the province, the plenary sessions were live-streamed.
Mossel Bay tourism manager Marcia Holm said: “What sets this travel festival apart is that it’s designed as a mash-up of real-world events and online activity, and we’ll be measuring its success largely by the amount of exposure we can create on social media.” - Weekend Argus