The Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) hopes to entice more airlines back to Lanseria and Wonderboom airports this year, and says it will leverage new air links with markets such as Ghana and Botswana to grow VFR traffic into the province.
GTA also plans to use product development and new packages to encourage more domestic trips by South Africans in 2022.
GTA Head of Destination Marketing, Barba Gaoganediwe, told Travel News that the tourism board was being intentional about its marketing in 2022, and will continue to work with other tourism stakeholders in the province to grow air access to OR Tambo, Lanseria and Wonderboom.
Gaoganediwe was delighted by the return of SAA flights between Accra and Johannesburg and Airlink’s flights to Gaborone. The services have boosted a #GPLifestyle marketing campaign, which is able to promote special packages with links travellers can use to book immediately.
VFR travel is a priority market for the GTA. Gaoganediwe said many families already travelled from Ghana to visit students, while Airlink’s Gaborone route to Johannesburg would allow more families in Botswana to plan a weekend visit.
“We don’t just build a route or encourage an airline to add a route, we deliberately market those flights with direct links,” he said. “When passengers fly with Airlink between Gaborone and Jo’burg, our research tells us that they are here to attend events, visit friends and relatives, and that they are also here to shop. For X amount, we will have a package that gives access to a quality event, to shopping, and it’s with a consistent airline partner that takes you from your home to Johannesburg and back safely.”
SAA and Airlink’s new routes are exactly the sort of development Gauteng’s airlift committee will want to build on in 2022. “The regional market is very important for us. We are deliberately focusing on these (travellers). The recovery of our tourism industry will start with domestic and regional traffic; it’s our bread and butter,” said Gaoganediwe.
The airlift committee includes representation from the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, Acsa, and the City of Ekurhuleni. An MOU was signed last year to strengthen the destination’s connectivity with key regional and international source markets and to protect OR Tambo’s hub status.
Gaoganediwe was hopeful that the resumption of flights by the Lufthansa Group in South Africa would grow business from other parts of Europe and support travel partners attending the upcoming ITB trade show.
However, he said the GTA was disappointed by the restrictions still limiting Emirates’ operations in South Africa, describing Dubai as an important feeder for international travel.
“Before COVID-19, Lanseria was making great inroads into the regional market. We are keeping an eye on that. The airport is right near to the Cradle of Humankind, our World Heritage Site. It is also an important base for our charter market. That opens doors for luxury travel, government travel and travel services with private features. Another growing source of business for Gauteng is medical tourism. We are watching that area of business and enhancing our competitiveness as a destination,” he said.
Gauteng gets vaxxed
Meanwhile, the GTA is also working to grow positive sentiment around Gauteng’s #JabsForTourism campaign. “Massive work has been done and we are excited by how the tourism sector has responded. From October until now, we have been working with health authorities and the private sector to vaccinate front-line tourism workers. From barristers to car guards in major tourist hubs, the idea is to send out the positive message that, when people visit Gauteng or go out on weekends, they are serviced by fully vaccinated staff who appreciate the value of tourism and what it contributes.
“Gauteng is very safe, and there has been a real uptake by trade partners to institutionalise COVID-19 safety and visitor services. We are also excited that South African Tourism has adopted the #JabsForTourism initiative and that it is now a national programme.”