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South Africa Tourism (SAT), in conjunction with Northstar Travel Media (the parent company of TravelAge West), has recently launched the Ubuntu Expo 2011, its latest effort to expand the South Africa travel market. The expo will take place in four different cities — New York, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles — to educate travel agents and agencies about this emerging destination.
The word Ubuntu encapsulates the African philosophy of “I am, because you are.”
According to Sthu Zungu, president of SAT North America, “Ubuntu is the idea that we coexist together. It’s about comfortable transitions and partnership. If South Africa wants to grow beyond the level that we are seeing now, it has to be joint effort and we need everybody to work together to make it happen.”
Since playing host to the Men’s FIFA World Cup in 2010, SAT has seen tremendous demand for travel to the destination and has continued the marketing momentum with various companies. Its most recent campaign was supporting “The Bachelor” reality television series in February and March of this year, providing South Africa with more exposure regionally as well as internationally.
SAT is working hard to continuously acquaint travelers and agents with South Africa, and the Ubuntu Expo will be a vehicle for this strategy. With the expo, travel agents will be able to learn more readily what South Africa has to offer in terms of diversity, exploration, heritage, lifestyle and entertainment to strengthen the marketing demographics for this culturally rich country. With the help of the multiple suppliers attending the expo, travel agents will learn first-hand about 30 different products and offers that are available in South Africa. In addition, there will be presentations to demonstrate the accessibility of South Africa. There are four major airlines that fly to South Africa, including South African Airways, Emirates, Delta and Virgin Airlines.
“South Africa is open for business,” said Zungu.
Zungu added that SAT’s current goal is to let agents know that South Africa is accessible for all types of clients.
“There is so much product range in South Africa in terms of hotel chains and other suppliers,” she said.
There are 50 hotels participating in the expo, including small boutique hotels, high-quality bed and breakfasts and larger hotel brands — showcasing the variety of accommodations available in South Africa for any client.
So far, although the expo is debuting for the first time, it has received positive feedback from agents and has reached its maximum number of participants. SAT is particularly eager to reach first-time agents and their most knowledgeable and well-traveled clients.
Another trend that will be discussed at the expo is an increase in family travel to South Africa. SAT is enthusiastic about the growing number of travelers in the 18-24 age group, which it feels supports their message that South Africa is a great travel destination for young people and families. The expo will include information about which safari lodges now have programs for children, which is a relatively new development in the country.
“Now, South Africa is right up there with other family destinations” said Zungu.