In the business of travel, tour operators, DMC’s, travel agents, and online retailers play a significant role in attracting international visitors to South Africa. Most travellers across Nigeria & Ghana use the services and expertise of Travel Agents & Tour Operators to assist them with their travel arrangements from the decision of the best destination to travel to specific travel logistics such as flights, accommodation, transfers, tours, etc. To this end, South African Tourism has consistently invested in training & development of travel agents & tour operators in the markets it operates in order to equip them (Travel Agents & Tour Operators) with the knowledge and experience of selling the amazing destination and providing professional services and memorable experience to their clients.
These objectives were part of what South African Tourism set out to achieve with the South Africa Travel Trade Specialist Hosting for industry graduates of the SAT owned SA Specialist Online Course winners during the 2018 Trade Training & Graduation Ceremony that took place between the 18th to 26th of November 2018 across Nigeria (Lagos, Abuja & Port Harcourt) & Ghana (Kumasi & Accra). By working to support both local and international travel trade partners through education about South Africa, tools to assist with the marketing of South Africa and South African products, SAT strives to unlock opportunities for more business in the tourism value chain.
The 26 guest, representing various travel agencies, tour operators, wholesalers, media, and a Trade influencer to spice the group was an engaging mix of distribution partners, from Nigeria and Ghana who were treated to 9 days of lots of fun, food, and frolic! The team, led by Trade Relations Manager, South African Tourism West Africa, Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa departed Lagos and Accra on the 18th of November for Johannesburg; arriving at the O.R Tambo International Airport in the early hours of the 19th. Thereafter, the guests were taken to lovely Mount Grace Resort by Marriot Hotel Group, which is quite simply, a dream as they were warmly welcomed and treated to “Spa treatments” to calm their jet lag. Barely an hour drive from the O.R Tambo Airport to Mount Grace resort just outskirt of Johannesburg still within the Gauteng province, a picturesque heavenly countryside resort that boasts the perfect retreat to get away from the crazy hustle and bustle of Joburg vibrant city life.
The days after rolling out the robust itinerary filled with new adventures and experiences within the proximity of the resort for the guests specially curated to give them a chance to experience firsthand what they learned from the online course in the most gratifying way such as meeting the locals of South Africa who were extremely welcoming to them as foreigners who came to experience their rich culture and history. They further immersed themselves in the evolution of life by visiting the “Sterkfontein Caves” (where life is said to have begun) and at the same location the “Cradle of Human Kind” museum to complete the historical experience back in time with lunch at the lovely Maropeng Hotel.
While the team lodged at Mount Grace, they got to visit the Lesedi Cultural Village which celebrates the diverse cultural traditions of Southern Africa. From Zulu people to those of Xhosa origin, Pedi, Basotho, and so on. South Africa has a rich diversity of people and cultures and 11 official languages. Lesedi Cultural Village allows visitors to really explore the glorious diversity of the people of this amazing land that is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation”. While they dinned diversely enjoying great South African cuisines, the group dared their hearts on Zip Line at Ama Zwing Zwing Adventures and speed boat cruise around Hartebeesport Dam, the biggest dam in the Gauteng & North Western area supplying water for Johannesburg and surrounds.
From Mount Grace Resort in Gauteng Province, the team flew to “The Mother City”, Cape Town and got to soak themselves in the beauty of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. This waterfront is so incredible in the sense that it’s not just a canal city but the actual sea meets the city to create a natural convergence of land and sea, where the city is built around and on the ocean. The guests got to learn a lot about the history of the Waterfront and of Cape Town and enjoyed leisurely activities such as, riding the Big Wheel at the Waterfront for less than a R100 and walking through the mall, which is in itself, an experience which ended with a high as they settled in the magnificent Marriot Crystal Hotel at Century City in with its spectacular rooms and next to Canal Walk Mall providing opportunity for per minute shopping.
The days following included hoping onto the Red Bus for a detailed Tour of the Mother City all the way to the Table Mountain for an amazing view of the charming city from above 3500ft above sea level. As the group came down, there was an arcade of Side Cars waiting to take them on a thrilling race to Oudekraal Picnic Beach for a South African picnic with a lot of dancing and later another full-on African dinner at the Gold Restaurant. The Wine Tram experience in the Franschhoek Wine Farm with a Champagne Sabrage. The evening was sumptuous dinner at the glamorous Southern Sun Cullinan with a surprise Jellof rice by the Chef and ended up at the popular Cubana to dance off the overfeeding.
The day before departing Capetown, the group had a closer connection with the locals during a foot tour of Boakap Village and the Township which ended up with a typical traditional South African Shisanyama lunch at the “RANDS” lifestyle outdoor lounge, eating, drinking & dancing with the locals. Later that evening, it was a quick stop-by at “Aarons Place” Nigerian restaurant for some pepper soup, Eba & others delicacies. The next day at the departure after one last sumptuous breakfast at the Marriot Crystal Hotel, the group stepped out hopping to jump into their regular luxurious bus only for them to find the iconic “Haley Davidson” bikes waiting to take them on the ride of their lives to the airport………. What a closing!
There is no doubt that the travel agents and media were astounded by the richness of this country. They used every sense: smell, sight, taste, sound, and touch, to really experience and appreciate the plethora of culture and history in South Africa. Their taste buds also got introduced to a variety of food and South Africa offers a vibrant cuisine that is sure to excite the palate!
“We really enjoyed every bit of the tour and the hosting and the Host are very very friendly and caring, in fact, we are happy to be associated with such wonderful people & land (Musa Muhammed Tahir – Abeer Travels & Tours Abuja)
On the whole, the program was interesting, and the tourist sites are just superb. (Chidozie – The Afritraveller)
The participation and diverse category of the specialist hosting group, increased engagement amongst travel agents and stakeholders on the trip opening their eyes and minds to the beauty of South Africa.