As part of a tour to explore what KwaZulu-Natal has to offer, sixty travel agents from several European countries have arrived in the province to attend a travel academy hosted by Followme2Africa. The agents will market South Africa as a destination - from beaches to game parks, cultural heritage tourism to international travellers.
Image via Wikimedia Commons - Midland Hilly Savanna near Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal
The UK-based outbound tour operator, an influential player in the European market, serves as an inbound operator in South Africa. For this travel academy, they have partnered with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal for the programme which runs until 5 June 2018
Over the next two weeks, the visiting travel agents will be in workshops and participate in site visits throughout the length and breadth of the province. The aim of this annual gathering by Followme2Africa is to ensure that the agents are well informed about all the tourism offerings available in KwaZulu-Natal so that they can return to their countries and package the Zulu Kingdom as a premier destination.
The acting CEO of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Phindile Makwakwa said: "Knowledge is power. By making foreign travel agents experts on the myriad of sights and sounds which Kwazulu-Natal has to offer and the diversity of experiences on hand, they will be better equipped to drive more people to the province. First-hand experience makes it easier to market a destination."
The travel agents start their journey in Mkhuze, making their way to various destinations including Hluhluwe, the Midlands, the battlefields and then Durban. Currently, at least 150,000 tourists from Germany, the UK and the USA visit KwaZulu-Natal every year, which makes it the second biggest international key source market for the province.
Tourism - a catalyst for economic transformation
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal believes that relationships form the cornerstone of any good marketing campaign and the hospitality extended to individuals and companies in the industry will give them a clear idea of what visitors can expect when they arrive.
"It’s not only about what they see but also how they feel when they experience in our destination. The entire experience must be good and that will eventually convert into sales for the benefit of Kwzulu-Natal. The idea is to turn the agents to our ambassadors as they are the first point of call when someone is considering their next holiday," said Makwakwa.
Tourism plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy and is considered an important catalyst for the province’s economic transformation. The provincial government hopes that through Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and the opportunities it offers emerging small, medium and micro tourism companies, it will have positive spin-offs for trade and change the lives of the historically disadvantaged.
Makwakwa said travel academies played a vital link in the tourism chain and that educating agencies and tour operators gave the province a competitive edge over other destinations. She said KwaZulu-Natal offered a variety of activities which catered to all tastes, from hiking in the Drakensberg, romantic settings in the Midlands, sun and sea along the coast to a variety of fine dining and even gambling experiences. "We are very confident about what we can offer to the tourists. It is a worthwhile destination for them to explore," said Makwakwa.
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