By Chioma Onyekwere

As part of efforts at boosting Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) in the Travel Industry in Nigeria, South African Tourism (SAT) partnered with South African Airways (SAA) and the Sun International (SI) to give nine (9) travel SME executives the opportunity to explore South Africa, and also showcase their products at a Brand Expo which took place on 29th and 30th June 2018 at Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria. The nine beneficiaries are: Crew Training Institute, Greater View Travels, Saffron Travels, Apeiron Travels, Vectra Travels, Foshizi Tours, Teeysz Tours, Akenn Tours and Nje Tours.

The beneficiaries bagan their trip to South Africa in the brand new South African Airways Airbus A330-300 series from Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos and were led by Trade Relations Manager, South African Tourism West Africa, Mr Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa and Mrs Motunrayo Ajomale of South African Airways Nigeria. The group arrived at the O.R Tambo International Airport in the early hours of the 2nd of August and were whisked off on a 30-minute drive to the Maslow Hotel in the heart of Sandton. They were welcomed by Mr Didier Bayeye, Marketing Manager, West Africa & Indian Ocean, Sun International.

While SAA was responsible for providing the flight to South Africa, Sun International provided the befitting accommodation at Maslow for the travel SME executives and SAT provided the experiences, including ground logistics throughout their stay in South Africa.

The fam trip was specially curated to give the agents the chance to experience the variety of memorable attractions that South Africa offers in and around Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria) and North West (Sun City) Provinces, and give them a first-hand experience to share while marketing the area to their clients.

Unaware of the many robust attractions and world-class locations in South Africa, many tour operators have been limited in offering South Africa as a holiday destination to their clients due to negative mind-sets about the country. Through this hosting, these travel SME executives were able to see a different side of South Africa and also experience the warmth and diversity of her people. From the visit to the Lesedi Cultural Village, to the trip to Soweto, home of the legend, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the travel SME executives had the opportunity to interact with South Africans who welcomed them with warm smiles and were also eager to share their culture with them.

At the Lesedi Cultural Village, less than one-hour drive from Jo’burg, the group encountered people of Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Ndebele and Basotho origins. From listening to peoples’ individual cultural stories, to touring local houses, the travel SME executives received a fuller picture of the South African heritage.

While exploring top tourist destinations like Gold Reef City, theme park and Sun City Resort – a world-class resort that offers a wide variety of hotels, attractions and events, including the luxurious Palace of the Lost City where they stayed, the travel SME executives (travel agents) were also able to witness, first-hand, the fun side of South Africa.

Boasting of many top tourist attractions with exciting activities, South Africa is a place to go and let your hair down, either alone or with family or friends. Individually or as a group, South Africa has something for everyone. There are also a wide variety of activities, from mountain climbing to zip lining, to suit different interests and passions. The travel SME executives (travel agents) were able to take part in these activities as they continued to explore South Africa during their one-week visit.

Aside from the places visited and the activities they engaged in, the executives had a taste of indigenous South Africa foods, savouring their flavours and richness on their palate. At Maboneng, an area with a wide selection of restaurants and artistic stores to choose from, the group enjoyed sumptuous meals and also had the opportunity to tour the artistic ambience of the neighbourhood.

Some of the participants who commented on the trip had glowing praises for South African Tourism and its partners. According to Victoria, MD, Akenn Travels, “This was a huge privilege given us even as a relatively new business, we have taken this with both hands and commit to delivering on the purpose for which this hosting was put together.” while Ms Tina Tinachi, MD, Nje Tours says “The trip was amazing, fun and informative”

On a similar note, Mrs Folasade Adegboyega of Apeiron Travel & Tours confessed “I have been to SA a couple of times, but this experience was exceptional. There was so much to do and see that time didn’t permit us. South Africa is an AMAZING destination. I will surely visit and sell again and again.”

With a new perspective about South Africa tourism, the travel SME executives (travel agents) can now add fresh highpoints of this country which their clients must encounter. What better way to sell a location as a holiday destination than to have a first-hand experience of the fullness of what the location has to offer? The travel SME executives (travel agents) ended the tripped equipped to increase and diversify their offerings to their clients and curate the best experiences in the travel packages they offer to their client.

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