South Africa can benefit from the American travel industry by looking online to reach this internet-savvy market, according to Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, owner of Destinate, a destination marketing agency.
“Americans have little to no annual leave. An annual survey by Expedia in 2014 showed that 54% of the US population feel ‘holiday-deprived’. The new American Dream is, therefore, to work less and play hard,” explained Du Toit-Helmbold.
“Forward-thinking US companies have begun recognising the need for time to refresh, but for now, US holiday-makers of working age are likely to take last minute and package holidays.”
She said experience is everything and travellers are looking for instant and total immersion. Trips by US tourists are likely to be spread throughout the year and the current rand exchange rate can have a positive impact too.
The Stellenbosch Experience, is an example of a campaign that will focus a large part of its efforts on the American market in 2016, using online engagement to educate American holiday-planners about the non-safari side of South Africa through experiential story-telling.
Globally, travel continues to outperform other sectors despite uncertain global economic growth, rising geopolitical unrest, volatile oil prices and rising interest rates, according to Du Toit-Helmbold.
She was recently at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London to represent Stellenbosch. WTM is considered the industry’s top showcase of travel products. Du Toit-Helmbold shared some of the global tourism trends she picked up at WTM.
Global tourist arrivals exceeded 1.1 billion in 2014, up by 4.3% with growth for 2015 forecasted at 3.7%.
Trends include mobile bookings that have gone main-stream, accounting for some $96bn of travel sales globally in 2014, expenditure being on the rise and emerging markets like China showing significant increases in disposable incomes.
At the same time the tourism market is becoming increasingly competitive, according to Du Toit-Helmbold and there are a number of key drivers at play.
Tourists are opting for active holidays over relaxation focused holidays.
“In 2014 it was already revealed that cycling is the new golf with the rise of MAMILs (middle-aged-men-in-lycra),” explained Du Toit-Helmbold.
“In 2015 we saw a considerable increase in bicycle tourism offered by destinations and in August 2015, sustainable transport charity Sustrans estimated that cycling tourism adds over £650m to the UK economy each year.”
She said in Stellenbosch the hunger for cycling tourism is “insatiable”.
“Cyclists and other active travellers wanting to invest in healthy living and healthy holidays, want a balance of challenging, beautiful terrain and fine lifestyle, food and wine experiences,” she said.
Johannesburg — Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has encouraged South Africans to use public transport rather than their own private cars during the EcoMobility World Festival 2015 underway in Sandton.
The festival, which will take place throughout October, is aimed at encouraging residents to park their cars and make use of public transport, walk or cycle in Sandton city to mitigate traffic congestion that affect business and economy, and also address environmental costs caused by carbon.
The event coincides with the National Transport Month.
“Walking is cool. Cycling is cool. Let us make it possible to stay healthy. If you walk or cycle you can reduce your weight, and reduce the chances of getting diseases,” said the Minister on Sunday when she officially opened the EcoMobility World Festival.
She said South Africa has a national climate change response strategy.
“We are committed to sustainable development. We are committed to ensure that we build cities of tomorrow, by making sure that we can move with the new technology. We also want to make sure that this technology will create jobs for our people,” said Minister Peters.
She called on the provincial government and City of Joburg to ensure that the companies that manufacture the bicycles residents will be using to get around to employ Gauteng residents. This was an opportunity to create jobs and reduce inequality.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura envisaged that the festival will be successful and said he would love to see it being developed into a lifestyle after October ends.
“We used to protect those who walk and run on the streets of our cities and towns, we need to change the way we build our cities and towns to promote and make it fashionable for people to walk.
“I personally used to walk from Alexandra to Sandton in the early 1980s,” he said.
He echoed the Minister’s call for people to use public transport. “It is cool to use public transport. Public transport promotes social cohesion and it protects our environment,” he said.
Johannesburg City Mayor Parks Tau said the EcoMobility World Festival is an introduction to the future. “We see the Ecomobility World Festival as a precursor to the future of Sandton and Johannesburg,” he said.
He said congestion in Sandton city contributed to the economic inefficiency that the city needed to overcome.
“We need to enable the economy to flourish by having less people who spend a lot of time in their cars instead of being productive, and have less people stuck in their cars because of congestion.
“For those of us who got stuck in our cars, you are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic,” said Mayor Tau.
He said the festival is also part of the collective responsibility of South Africans to mitigate the impact of greenhouse emissions on climate change.
Mayor Tau said the best way to do this was to invest in public transport, cycling lanes and pedestrian facilities and reducing levels of congestions in the streets.
Korean Mayor for the City of Suwon, Yeom Tae-Young, was amongst the international guests who attended the official opening.
His city was the first to host the festival in 2014, and said eco mobility is good in that it promotes social change and integration in communities.
Jeffrey Mulaudzi has not looked backed since he first seized the opportunity to build a business on the potential offered by the Fifa World Cup, hosted by South Africa in 2010. Just 18 at the time, Mulaudzi decided to offer bicycle tours of Alexandra, one of Johannesburg’s oldest townships, to the many tourists and sporting fans visiting the county. His business has proved sustainable and, today, Mulaudzi Bicycle Tours is ranked as one of the top five activities in Johannesburg by international travel website TripAdvisor, and has won him many awards.
The real deal
Mulaudzi, who has always had an interest in learning foreign languages, was studying French in 2010 when his tutor asked to be shown around Alexandra, a township outside Johannesburg. Mulaudzi, who was born and raised in Alexandra, decided the best way to show his tutor the “real” Alexandra would be by bicycle, which would allow him to interact with the community.After a successful tour with his tutor, Mulaudzi saw an opportunity in introducing his home to others – not just the usual tourism sites, but the lifestyle and people.He started by making tour brochures to hand out at hotels. “One day I went to an hotel and dropped my brochures off, and the concierge thanked me and then dropped them in the bin as I went out.”Luckily a guest waiting by the concierge saw him doing that and asked for one, which was rescued from the bin. He then called me for a tour for the next day.”With the money from his first tour, Mulaudzi started paying hotels to display his brochures and the investment very quickly paid off. The money he earned went towards buying more bicycles, so he could increase his tour numbers.
Promoting local culture
Today, Mulaudzi has three tour guides and hosts an average of three tours a week – although this fluctuates depending on the time of year. He is also seeing a growing number of South Africans take his tours to experience township life.Tours cost R200 (around $18) for two-and-a-half hours, or R400 ($37) for four hours. The cost includes bike hire, helmets, water, and lunch. Participants also get to taste umqombothi, a traditional African beer.Mulaudzi uses the tour to introduce people to Alexandra residents, giving them the opportunity to share their stories.”We make it so that there is communication … so that Alexandra residents can communicate with people from different countries, and visitors can see that they don’t have to be afraid of Alexandra, the place that we come from.”We are also people, and I want to show it’s not a place where you will come and be killed or something like that,” he says. “I want people to better understand and know what kind of people live in the township as well.”His tours also include an introduction to Alexandra’s history, with a visit to the infamous hostels erected by the apartheid government in the 1960s, and the home where Nelson Mandela once lived.Toursits also visit local businesses and shebeens, which helps bring in business for other entrepreneurs in the community.
Mulaudzi’s entrepreneurial success led him to win the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the 2013 South African Turkish Business Awards.He has also been named as one of the 12 finalists for the 2014 Anzisha Prize, a pan- African competition that recognises entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 who are using business to bring change to their communities.Mulaudzi says he has an “entrepreneurial heart” and, while his township tours are his first business, it will not be his last. He is looking for partners African Public Bicycles, which will allow people to rent bicycles to travel to a destination, leaving them there to be collected by the company.”At the moment the bicycles are costing around R60 to hire … and if it could be subsidised by a company … which could get advertising on the bicycle, I think it would be a very good thing.”His plan is to grow this model in South Africa and extend it across the border.”Bicycles are the best form of transport to see a country and interact with people. In a car you get stuck in traffic, and if you are walking you can’t cover as much distance. Bicycles make sense, and I think, when you think about traffic, we are going in that direction more and more as a continent.”
‘Never give up’
“Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but once you realise and understand that you are an entrepreneur, you must never ever give up,” Mulaudzi says. “Many people can start, but not many people can finish … but the only way you can finish what you started is to never give up.”He adds that entrepreneurs should consider every failure a lesson: “Entrepreneurship is not easy because you always start with losing. I have never read a book that was written by an entrepreneur that says it is easy and you just need to start and you will get money. Never. It’s all about investing and reinvesting … and learning from your mistakes.”
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