South Africa Set to Score Big in 2011

On the heels of the 2010 World Cup, which offered expansive exposure to millions of viewers around the world and generated the development of thousands of new hotel rooms around the country, South Africa is scoring big time on visitor numbers from North America, especially in the luxury market where  value is the big player.

Lucille Sive, Lion World Tours’ president, says business to South Africa is very good and in fact, is the company’s second most popular destination in its inventory. “We know that in September, which was right after the World Cup, we had one of the biggest months that we’ve had in about 10 years. So South Africa is booming, there’s definitely a big interest. People were excited, there was fabulous coverage. And if you’ve never been, going on safari is at the top of everyone’s bucket list.”

As a result, she says, “What we wanted to do after the World Cup, we wanted to make it luxury, but we wanted to make it affordable so everyone could go.” What that means is, your clients can go on an air-inclusive, ultra-luxe 9-day South Africa In-Style vacation, for example, with a 4-night stay at one of Cape Town’s most luxurious hotels—either the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Table Bay Hotel or Commodore Hotel—plus two nights and three days of game viewing in Kruger National Park at one of two luxury safari lodges—Jackalberry Safari Lodge or Royal Legend Safari Lodge—all from just $2,799, plus $190 in taxes and fees. Who says the “good life” has to be expensive.

The package includes sightseeing around Cape Town, plus a Winelands Tour, roundtrip international economy airfare from New York or Washington, D.C. to Cape Town and back via Johannesburg; domestic flights as indicated in itinerary; six breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners; game drives as specified in itinerary; transportation in luxury air-conditioned vehicles; sightseeing as per itinerary led by qualified English-speaking guide; entrance fees for sightseeing as indicated and Lion World Tours representative meet and greet upon arrival.

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One of the reasons that kind of pricing is available is primarily because all the hotel rooms built for the World Cup have to be filled, creating a world of value in the country. At the same time, lift to South Africa, despite the fact that traffic has increased there, still has affordable pricing because of the increased competition. “South African Airways is doing really good; we sell a lot of South African Airways. That’s probably our main airline that we use,” Sive explains. “But it’s nice to see other carriers coming in with flights now,” she says, citing “Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, British Airways and Air France have some very good deals now, as does Lufthansa.”

Still another factor that makes a South Africa sell well for agents is that it’s generally a first-time destination for first-time travelers to Africa, and then that one trip of a lifetime generally ends up being more trips of a lifetime. “It’s not really a one-time visit, it’s very seldom a one-time visit,” Sive points out. “I believe somebody will go to South Africa, but then they will want to maybe do something else in South Africa, maybe add on some Botswana or go to Kenya and Tanzania.” Translation: more Africa business for you.

great safaris Dave Herbert, CEO of Great Safaris, a new company he launched just recently and the former founder and managing director of African Travel, Inc., puts the emphasis on what he calls, “Enriching Life Experiences.”

“You know, the top end of the market over the last couple of years has actually served us very well. What’s happening, I think with travelers generally, certainly the American travelers, we’re kind of distinguishing ourselves, we’re not a traditional tour operator selling travel,” he points out. “There’s a good portion of our target market who are traveling for the experience, that’s why I’m using this experiential title. Africa does suit itself well. There’s a lot of mind changing when people take the experience of a safari to Africa, that’s what we’re really aiming at.”

And while Herbert emphasizes that, “I don’t want to be known as the $1,995 luxury operator because that’s not what we are,” he decided to “experiment” with a low-priced Relief program for snow- and rain-weary North Americans eager for a little fun in the sun. The $1,995 I love Cape Town program partnering with South African Airways offers roundtrip air from New York or Washington, D.C.; a variety of sightseeing options including the infamous Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated, the breathtaking vistas and vineyards of the Cape Winelands, and a 5-night stay in the heart of the trendy Waterfront District with daily American breakfast, plus private airport transfers and a full-day Cape Point sightseeing tour. Prices for the I love Cape Town tour are valid for travel through March and additional departures through August 2011 are available, at applicable surcharges. Prices are based on two people traveling together and sharing a room.