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Wednesday, 22 July, 2009, 15 : 30 PM [IST]

South Africa Tourism: Adopting a 360-degree communication mix for India

From hosting the much talked about Indian Premiere League 2009 to the upcoming FIFA World Cup in 2010, South Africa has become the hot spot for global events and tourism. South Africa Tourism, which started operations in Indian market in 2005 has come a long way in creating awareness about the destination. Krupa Vora charts out the multiple strategies adopted by the tourism board in order to hard sell the destination in India
In 2005, when South African Tourism first set up its office in India, the key strategy was to define the potential audience and reach out to them with the help of targeted marketing tools in order to create awareness and excitement about South Africa as a destination. A smart combination of promotions, advertising and other media-related activities enabled the key audience to be sufficiently motivated and the response received by the tourism board was tremendous. Initially, the tourism board conducted extensive research to understand the existing and potential outbound traveler base, travel patterns, likes and dislikes, spending habits, preferred times of travel during the year, among other things. This activity helped the tourism board to gain insights into an audience that it was starting to communicate with.

220709_ms_2.jpgWhile conducting the study, it was learnt that the spending power was concentrated in the top eight cities of India – the four metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata) along with Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune. While the markets were identified, the tourism board also narrowed down the potential for leisure travel and identified experienced family explorers, wanderlusters and new family explorers as the key segments that would be interested in travelling to South Africa. “With the availability of such in-depth knowledge and audience profile, we planned our promotions, direct mailers and advertising campaigns accordingly and the results were visible. A lot of lateral out-of-the-box marketing and thinking enabled us to be very visible in India,” stated Medha Sampat, Country Manager – India, South Africa Tourism.

South Africa Tourism also organised road shows, in-country famils to reach out to the Indian travel trade industry in order to facilitate partnerships and synergies between the Indian operators and their counterparts in South Africa. The familiarisation trips organised for key Indian trade partners, as well as media highlighted the multiple facets of South Africa, which helped bring alive the experience of the destination. The tourism board also continued the Fundi Specialist Programme, which was introduced in the Indian market way before the tourism board started operations. The specialist programme enhanced the education aspect of the destination among the Indian travel trade, thus helping the tourism board to increase the tourist arrivals from India to South Africa.

220709_ms_3.jpgDeveloping the market for Indian tourists
One of the challenges faced by tourism board was effective communication with the Indian market so that the traveller understands the value proposition of South Africa as a destination. Indian travellers also had reservations about the availability of Indian food in South Africa. The board studied this seriously and also educated the South African trade partners on the local cuisine, hospitality standards, among other nuances. To further spread awareness about the availability of Indian food and restaurants, it launched the South African food map in 2007, which served as a ready reckoner for the traveller with regards to specific Indian food requirements. The food map was updated in 2008 and is now also available on the website. “It has been a long winding road to sell South Africa as a new kid on the block with a unique experience that differentiates it from the rest of the tourism players around the world. In such a competitive world, it becomes extremely difficult to promote South Africa, not just as a holiday destination, but also as the true groundbreaking experience that changes the lives of the tourists and travellers,” explained Sampat.  

Adopting two prong strategy
The tourism board is undertaking various initiatives to woo Indian travellers by establishing direct connect with the consumers. In the last few months, the tourism board has conducted extensive outdoor hoarding campaigns in major cities of India and has also initiated tie-ups with various leading media houses. It conducted radio promotions with Big 92.7 FM and also initiated a unique online promotion titled 'Fantastic Five' with Web 18, the online division of Network 18. It also tied-up with Zoom TV, which profiles South Africa through the eyes of many of leading Bollywood personalities who have visited the country. The tourism board will continue to promote South Africa through consumer and lifestyle events and contest-based activities.


On the trade front, the tourism board will continue to conduct trade events like road shows, in-country famils, familiarisation trips and activities which would help them market the country better to their consumers. Along with the marketing strategy with a B2B and a B2C approach, a 360-degree communication mix right through the year will help in attracting potential tourists to the country. Apart from the marketing strategies, the tourism board is also in the process of launching two travel guides focusing on soft adventure sports and luxury travel, which will serve as a valuable tool for luxury and adventure seekers when on a holiday in South Africa. The launch of these two travel guides will take place in Hyderabad during the in-country famil in September this year. The marketing and sales team across India will also add to the benefit of promoting South Africa in the Indian market. “At South Africa Tourism India, we have focused on various vibrant aspects such as fashion, entertainment, food and wine, adventure travel, cricket and soccer along with trade activities. South Africa has emerged as an exciting holiday destination and our efforts to promote the country have further strengthened tourist arrivals to South Africa in a big way,” concluded Sampat.
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