How can travel agents market to the SA domestic traveller?

“We have set aside R100 million that will be utilised to promote domestic tourism. We need innovative ways to market our tourist destinations and product offerings to entice our citizens to travel and experience South Africa.”

It is these words from our Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom that has prompted SA Tourism to join forces with ASATA, as SA Tourism is looking to the South African travel agent for ‘innovative’ ways to market to the SA domestic traveller.


To help you along your way, we want to give you some tips and pointers on how to best market to the South African domestic traveller.

Important to know for example, is that South Africans get inspired to holiday domestically when they hear about the holiday experiences of their friends and family, or when there are are sports or musical events being organised at the destination. Also media promotions will entice the South African traveller.

The BUILD traveller, who hasn’t travelled yet but has the right background to do so, will mainly be inspired by word-of-mouth. However, also he/she can also be inspired by media promotions on the radio, promotional ads in magazines and news about different places. Travellers wish to see and experience what they see and hear through these sources, and they will use the Internet to select destinations. Also other travellers’ photos on social media websites (such as Facebook) help in choosing a destination.

Although the BUILD market is a challenging market for the travel agent to reach, travel agents who do want to reach out to this traveller need to remember that this group of travellers has a strong preference for beaches and seaside locations, but also enjoy holidaying around places with plenty of greenery. The budget this traveller sets aside for a trip of about a week will range between R2000 and R5000 per person.

The CONVERT traveller, who has already travelled but not for leisure, will be inspired by activities (such as diving and swimming) and events. Travel agents wanting to market to this traveller will need to take to social media, as convert travellers mainly refer to travel-related posts on social media along with travel review websites. However, also the brochures and advertisements of travel agencies in newspapers will speak to them.


Travel agents will need to remember that the convert traveller sees the bush, the beach and the mountains as ideal holiday destinations. No technology and no civilisation are some of the characteristics these travellers associate with their dream destinations. The budget this traveller sets aside for a week’s holiday is between R5 000 and R7 000 per person.

The ‘been there, done that’ DEFEND traveller, has travelled extensively, and will find inspiration through word of mouth of friends as well as sports and musical events. They mainly turn to travel review websites to research a destination. Also social media has important role to play, as travellers see other travellers’ photos on social media websites (such as Facebook) and engage with them to get information on their trip.

Travel agents wanting to reach out to the affluent DEFEND traveller, will need to keep in mind that Beach and Islands are the most popular dream destinations as they long for peace and solitude. Also the mountains are a popular getaway, as these travellers like the snow. The budget DEFEND travellers set aside for a week’s holiday is between R10 000 and R15 000 per week.

For more insights on Domestic Tourism, stay posted to ASATA’s newsletter, website and social media…

How can we profile the South African domestic traveller?

With a potential 3,6 million South African domestic travellers keen to explore the country, South African Tourism decided to join forces with ASATA and start actively selling holidays in South Africa.

But who is the South African traveller and how can travel agents best target him or her? SA Tourism did the research and revealed there are three important groups of potential travellers in South Africa:

  • BUILD: “I have the means to travel, but am not travelling yet.” There is a need to BUILD the culture of travel in this group.
  • CONVERT: “I travel, but only for work.” There is a need to CONVERT this group to start travelling for leisure holidays.
  • DEFEND: “Been there, done that!” This group is mature in terms of holiday travel, so there is a need to DEFEND and ensure up-sell

By far, the largest group of travellers are the BUILD travellers. They have started dreaming about holidays and would like to de-stress, explore the country and go spend time with their friends and family at the sea. The downside is that these potential travellers have a very limited budget and are not very likely to use a travel agent. They prefer to do their own bookings through travel booking websites.

The convert group probably presents more opportunities for travel agents. These travellers don’t want to stay with ‘oom and tannie’ at the coast. Instead they want to break away from the daily treadmill and really treat themselves by doing absolutely nothing or by exploring the diversity of the country.

Travel agents who want to reach out to the ‘convert’ traveller will need to remember that these travellers like to plan their trips in advance. They are inspired by events and activities, but they perceive South Africa to be an expensive destination. They are also worried about their home and personal security while on a trip, so make sure to highlight the safety of the chosen destination or accommodation.

Finally, the ‘defend’ travellers have done and seen it all, and offer the travel agents great up-sell opportunities. Defend travellers like to get away from home, relax, spend quality time with their families and broaden their horizons during their holidays.

Also ‘defend’ travellers perceive South Africa to be expensive, and say that they can travel overseas at the cost of travelling domestically. However, they can be swayed to take a trip to attend sports and musical events.

For more insights on Domestic Tourism, stay posted to ASATA’s newsletter, website and social media…


Domestic Tourism

What prevents South Africans from going on holiday?


Did you know that most adult South Africans have never taken a holiday in their own country? SA Tourism has crunched the numbers and seen that the number of domestic trips, total number of domestic travellers and domestic travel spend are even declining.


So, what is preventing domestic travellers from taking a holiday in their own country?


Affordability is without a doubt the key barrier for South African travellers. They feel their country’s tourism offerings are expensive for the locals – especially during the peak season when everything seems geared towards the international traveller with the strong greenback in his pocket.


Although there is not a lot that travel agents can do about their clients’ lack of funds, they can encourage events during the low season. They can advise their clients to book ahead of time, thereby making the cost of the trip easier to ‘digest’ by first paying a deposit. Travel agents can also advise on affordable airfares, and value-for-money accommodation and destinations.


That brings us to the second obstacle. South African travellers feel they don’t have enough information about what’s on offer in their own country. They’re keen to expand their horizons and explore unfamiliar destinations. Unfortunately, with only ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations and no ‘real’ information, they end up going to the usual and same-old destinations.


One traveller said: “I can tell you where to find a very nice sushi place in the middle of London but I do not really know about South Africa. I know Margate, Amanzimtoti and all the traditional beach bum places…”


The message for travel agents? Make it clear and easy for your clients, and provide them with as much information as possible. For travellers craving information about destinations within their own country, a deal doesn’t necessarily mean price, but rather, the value of the package and the ease of booking it.


For more insights on Domestic Tourism, stay posted to ASATA’s newsletter, website and social media…

Domestic tourism

How do South Africans choose their holidays?

Did you know out of the 21.7m South Africans over the age of 18 and earning a personal monthly income, some 3.6m adults would be targetable as holiday travellers by travel agents? That is why SA Tourism would like to team up with ASATA members to promote and sell holidays in South Africa.

Important to know for South African travel agents who want to tap into the domestic tourism niche, is how South Africans choose their holidays. SA Tourism did the research and is happy to share it with you…

It will probably not come as a big surprise that affordability is the most important consideration for SA travellers when choosing a holiday destination. Most South African travellers perceive South Africa’s tourism offerings to be expensive for locals – especially during peak season.

So, travel agents who want to tap into the domestic market, will need to brush up on rand-stretching tips for their clients. Packages are a great option, but travellers say they often feel restricted by the lack of flexibility of travel packages. So, travel agents will need to get creative to attract the budding South African domestic traveller. Make sure however that when selecting affordable options for your clients, you select ‘safe’ options, as this is a major concern for the South African traveller.

Is there a rugby concert in Durban? Is Bieber coming to Cape Town? Sporting and music events are a great inspiration for South Africans to pack their bag and explore the country. Exciting activities, such as diving, hiking or bunjee jumping, can also convince domestic travellers to book that holiday.

Keep your ear to the ground if you want to know what the ‘hip and happening’ destinations are. Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest inspirations for South African travellers. Other travellers’ photos on social media websites also help South Africans make a decision on the choice of their next holiday destination.

Good news for travel agents is that South African domestic travellers tend to book in advance. Most can’t really afford to travel spontaneously; they need to plan according to their budget and work obligations. They’ll do a lot of research online, and some will also book online. But, there are quite a few travellers that want the expertise of a travel agent.

For more insights on Domestic Tourism, stay posted to ASATA’s newsletter, website and social media…

Domestic Tourism

Why do South Africans go on holiday?

‘Why do South Africans go on holiday?’ is an important question to ask for travel agents who want to tap into the domestic tourism market and promote and sell holidays in South Africa. And, South African Tourism is ready to reveal the answer to ASATA members.

It will hardly come as a surprise that the most important reason why South Africans go on holiday is to ‘relax’ and to have a ‘break from the routine’.

Most South Africans also see holidays as the ideal means to reconnect with their families. But that doesn’t mean they want to go visiting friends and family during their holidays. Most South Africans believe that VFR trip are all work and no fun…

Instead of visiting oom en tannie, South Africans rather want to explore new places both internationally and within their own country. They want to experience something ‘different’, and like to participate in exciting activities that will allow them to learn about different cultures and broaden their horizons.

The ‘new’ and emerging South African travellers, who haven’t travelled much before, see a holiday as the perfect opportunity to just get away and have fun. If these travellers can enhance their social status by posting some impressive pics on social media, even better.

The more hardened leisure travellers focus on holidays that will ‘rejuvenate their mind and body’. They tend to have busy work routines, and see their holidays as the perfect time to reward themselves with a trip that will recharge their batteries. The main purpose of their holiday is to reflect, refocus and return as a ‘better person’.

Although quite keen to travel within their own country, most South Africans feel they don’t have enough information about what’s on offer in their home land. As a result, they travel mostly to the familiar and popular destination. And, well… that can get a bit boring.

So, if you want to attract the attention of the domestic traveller, try and find unexplored nature-based destinations where they can experience exciting new activities. And… to let you in on a little secret: the beach is their absolute favourite destination, followed closely by the mountains and the bush.

Who is the South African domestic traveller?

Local is lekker, or so they say, and while selling domestic travel has not really been the preserve of South Africa’s travel agents in the past, this is all about to change as South African Tourism works with ASATA members to promote and sell holidays in South Africa.

Did you know that most adult South Africans have never taken a holiday in the country? That Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) is the main reason that South Africans travel domestically? And that unaffordability is the main reason that South Africans do not travel in their own country.

SA Tourism has crunched the numbers and seen that the number of domestic trips, total number of domestic travellers and domestic travel spend are declining, which means we are behind most destinations when it comes to what domestic travel vs international travel contributes to the economy.

Useful for you to know if you work in travel is that out of 21.7m South Africans over the age of 18 and earning a personal monthly income, some 3.6m adults would be targetable as holiday travellers.

So why do South Africans go on holiday?

South Africans go on holiday to relax mostly and their destination choices are influenced by friends’ recommendations and travel websites and affordability. According to research conducted by SA Tourism, travellers prefer to manage bookings themselves using online travel booking websites.

Holidays are a reward for the hard work they put in their demanding daily routines and a holiday allows them to reflect and refocus, which is important to South Africans.

South Africans believe that travelling domestically for holiday allows them to experience new and different things in the country.  They prefer outdoor, nature-based destinations with the beach being a firm favourite, but the mountains and bush are also appealing.

Because of the high level of VFR travel conducted by South Africans, holidays are also there to help travellers reconnect with their family. Good to note is that most travellers believe that VFR trips restrict their freedom and enjoyment, and burden them with work.

Familiarity brings a degree of boredom to South Africans; thus, they go for holidays to new places in search of different experiences and to break-away from the monotony. Travellers feel restricted at home and wish to get away with friends to be themselves and have fun.

For more insights on Domestic Tourism, stay posted to ASATA’s newsletter, website and social media…

Ebola Outbreak Update

With much of South Africa’s outbound travel focused on African destinations, the recent Ebola outbreak has raised some concerns among business travellers preparing to do business within the continent.

The 2014 outbreak is one of the largest in history and currently affects several countries in West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

So severe is this particular outbreak, that several airlines have cancelled their outbound flights to affected destination, while countries like Kenya and Botswana are on high alert and have instituted measures to secure their borders against the threat of the Ebola spread. Corporate travel is largely being suspended or delayed, unless essential.

The South African government for its part has taken measures to enhance surveillance, distribute guidelines to all hospitals, designate health facilities for the treatment of Ebola patients, deployed personal protective equipment to designated facilities, conducted training, activated outbreak response teams and is operating a hotline for clinicians through the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. 

Countries have been divided into three risk categories with measures such as travel bans for all non-citizens from high-risk countries or strict screening process for South African citizens returning from these countries.  See this update for full details. ACSA has also released standard operating procedures, that you can read here.

The situation is evolving quickly and ASATA will continue to monitor it in detail so as to ensure our members are kept informed on the latest educated advice.

The World Health Organization recommends that all contact be avoided with Ebola patients and their bodily fluid. Do not touch anything, such as shared towels, which could have become contaminated in a public place.

Symptoms of the disease include the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The incubation period, i.e. the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is two to 21 days.

Fast facts

  • Ebola outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%
  • Outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission
  • No licenced specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals

Industry concern over unintended consequences of new immigration legislation

Association of Southern African Travel Agents’ response to joint statement by the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Tourism

It is with growing concern that ASATA took note of the recently released joint press statement that was issued 31 July by the Ministers of Tourism and Home Affairs, confirming an implementation date of 1 October, despite acknowledging short falls in the ability of Home Affairs to meet their own objectives regarding various amendments to the Immigration Act.

On behalf of its members and South African travellers, who are now required to apply for unabridged birth certificates to travel internationally with their children under the age of 18, ASATA has repeatedly asked Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to consider a 12-month deferment of the implantation date and to meet with industry bodies to discuss the impact that this will have on our sectors.

A letter, signed by five of the countries top travel industry leaders, highlighting the concerns of the travel industry and the impact the new ruling would have, was also sent to Minister Gigaba 10 days ago. We have not received acknowledgement of receipt nor our request to meet.  Furthermore, a request for assistance in clarifying some of the concerns raised, e.g. “travellers departing before the end of September but arriving back after the 1 October will they (the child) require an unabridged birth certificate?” has been sent to relevant Home Affairs representatives three weeks ago, to which we have yet to receive a response.

Although the Department of Home Affairs has stated a turn-around time of four to eight weeks to issue a new unabridged birth certificate, practice suggests these timelines are closer to between four and six months, depending on which Home Affairs office to apply too.

This and the lack of a clear communication has created a lot of confusion in our industry and for our clients, who are turning to us to assist in providing clarity.

While we stand behind any efforts to secure our borders and to protect our children in all instances, we have yet to see what research has informed government to introduce a requirement to carry an unabridged birth certificate as an additional travel document.  Our extensive research has shown that no other country in the world has implemented a similar requirement.

In light of this, we question the effectiveness of this new requirement in meeting the Home Affairs’ objective to reduce child trafficking. A birth certificate is not a recognised travel document anywhere in the world; passports and visa’s serve that purpose, with the necessary process behind acquiring one to ensure that it is fit for that purpose.

Please let us be sure that the policies in place serve that purpose and do not have undue consequences.

Furthermore, we must ask that such an onerous new administrative regulation have an appropriate lead in time and a structured and collective consultative process with the travel and airline industries to avoid the inevitable confusion the premature implementation of said new rules will cause to the travelling public and our industry at large.

We therefore re-assert our call for a 12-month grace period in order to ensure minimal short-term disruption to our industry whilst maintaining the Department of Home Affairs objectives.

Its Africa Day…..

This is just a heads up….

Africa Day is on Friday 25th of May 2012 which means a public holiday in some countries.  Angola and Nigeria have informed us that their Embassy’s will be closed and no documents processed.

Keep it in mind and tell your clients

Think before you solicit your employer’s clients

I heard recently of a senior travel consultant leaving her current position to start her own travel company and on her last day wrote a very endearing letter to her employer’s client base to advise them of her new business adventure and all the good reasons why they should move their commerce to her.

Now why is this not okay?

Firstly, her letter of employment has a clause that explicitly covers the petitioning of her employers clients, but more importantly because it is such an unethical act!

A data base of any proportion takes time, technology and tenacity and whilst it may be available to employees to access for work related business it is proprietary information and should be treated as such.  The Consumer Protection Act covers the consumer’s right to privacy and clearly an act of this nature invades this basic consumer right.  In addition, the consumer has the right to choose and they have clearly made their choice.

Data base management companies place a sizable price tag to their product and for good reason, so however great the temptation is to solicit names without permission, remember its wrong!