Todd Neuman, executive v.p. for South African Airways (SAA) in North America, says that right now is a very good time for families to head to Africa, “not only because of the benefit of viewing the wildlife, but it’s exposing children to new and different cultures; and South Africa, of course, has a very rich history and a very interesting heritage.”
Additionally, “South Africa is a very affordable destination, with the exchange rate being 14 South African Rand to US$1, and the airfares, the accommodations, the meals, the wine…it’s all very affordable. I think the perception is that travel to Africa is very expensive, and it can be, but there are also opportunities where a North American traveler can enjoy a 10- to 12-day trip to South Africa with four- and five-star accommodations, with safari and airfare included, for under $5,000.
“I think if you were to look at comparing the cost of a family vacation in South Africa vs. a family vacation at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, you will find that cost to be very similar, but the experience is going to be significantly different.”
For booking that tour to South Africa, travel advisors should look to South African Airways Vacations, which, says its president & CEO Terry von Guilleaume, “has some incredible malaria-free safari packages for those families traveling with small children. The lodges showcased in our offering are kid-friendly and have children activities on offer during the day to keep kids busy between game drives. We have also highlighted and suggested certain hotels in Cape Town that allow two children under the age of 18 to share a hotel room with parents, therefore essentially offering free accommodation for kids. A strong recommendation and one that families seem to prefer is to book private day tours—thereby allowing the day to be spent at the family’s pace versus being at the mercy of other guests on the vehicle.”
Your clients might be excited about a trip to the continent, but then they remember it’s a 15- to 16-hour long-haul flight to South Africa from the U.S. east coast, and there are children to consider. Neuman states that SAA has families covered with the airline’s aircraft being “designed for long-haul travel with a little bit of extra legroom in economy class, and flatbeds in business class. We also have in-flight entertainment, with each seat offering a variety of movies, TV shows, games, music, and we also offer a children’s in-flight kit with games and a coloring book.” SAA also offers special children’s meals, notes Neuman, adding that “we try and cater as much to children to keep them entertained because families are a growing market.”
Strong Partnership with Travel Trade
With Africa being a long-haul destination, many travelers still depend on your expertise to arrange their travels to the continent, says Neuman. In fact, about 80 percent of the business that SAA generates out of North America is “driven through the travel trade,” says Neuman, “so it continues to be an important channel for us and for that reason, we do dedicate a lot of resources to developing partnerships and relationships with the travel trade.” For example, the airline has a field sales team of eight sales directors located throughout North America that work with travel partners to develop their business to South Africa, and, says Neuman, “SAA is probably the most proactive carrier flying to Africa in terms of being involved in a number of travel industry events.” Selling Africa, points out Neuman, “can be very lucrative.”
For information on South African Airways’ flights to Ghana, click here.