Growth potential for outbound travel market

Research released at World Travel Market Africa 2017 by Grant Thornton and Reed Exhibitions points to growing opportunities for outbound travel in South Africa, with much of the growth coming from intra-Africa leisure travel.

Traditionally, outbound travel from South Africa has not been well tracked, says Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA. “This research is the first step to enhancing the insights our members have around patterns of leisure travel by South Africans.

“As part of ASATA’s approved strategy for 2017 / 2018, we are commissioning a Travel Market Index Report to provide members with insight in to South African traveller behaviour. We would encourage all companies involved in the business of outbound travel to participate so that proper intelligence can be shared for the benefit of all.”

The research indicates increasing opportunities for outbound travel from South Africans, driven predominantly by the growing wealthy and middle classes.

Gillian Saunders, deputy CEO Grant Thornton, says South Africans in general are not adventurous travellers, tend to travel to the same destinations which are affordable and are not big bookers of independent travel.

“The opportunities lie in showing South African travellers that there are new and different opportunities for travel worldwide other than the destinations they currently travel to. We are however challenged by exchange rates, the current economic climate and visa restrictions that are making it a challenge for South Africans to travel overseas.”

Otto indicates that this is a great opportunity for South Africa’s travel trade to guide South African travellers and grow the market by providing professional service and on-the-ground destination knowledge so that they can Travel with Peace of Mind.

According to Grant Thornton, South Africa’s total outbound travel market was set at 5,5m travellers in 2016 for all forms of travel. However, of that amount, only an estimated 300,000 travellers travel for leisure internationally.

“As a travel industry, we have to work together to grow the market so that more South African travellers have an opportunity to experience their own country as tourists and the many destinations that are welcoming South Africans to their shores,” concludes Otto.

Grant Thornton and Reed Exhibitions’ research indicates those key drivers of outbound travel to be connectivity to markets and products, the cost of travel, a culture of overseas travel and ease of travel and booking.

For more information on outbound statistics click here

avoid scams

ASATA in the news – Beware scammers derailing your holidays

ASATA is featuring its members in the news on a regular basis to comment on important issues in the travel industry. If you would like to be included among the travel consultants that comment or have a story where you’ve saved the day, please contact us on asata@bigambitions.co.za.

The following story appeared on IOL this week and tells consumers why it’s important to book with an ASATA accredited travel agent.

Beware scammers derailing your holidays

How does seven days in Mauritius, including five-star accommodation, airport-hotel transfers and return flights including taxes sound for R10,000? In a word – unrealistic. Yet, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) is contacted regularly by consumers whose holiday plans have gone awry because they booked a holiday package that was simply too good to be true, or were scammed and defrauded by a travel provider.

“We see the level of complaints rise in the run-up to school holidays. It is unfortunate that consumers are prepared to pay thousands to travel providers they have not verified, yet when they purchase any other high-ticket item, greater concern seems to be given to verify the supplier thereof,” said ASATA, the CEO Otto de Vries.

Otto cites a recent report released in the EU which shows that two-thirds of travel booking websites provide misleading information on prices. The report indicates that in the EU, a fifth of websites display promotional offers that are not really available, and a quarter of websites also mislead consumers by saying there are only a limited number of seats or rooms available at a specific price.

“Travel fraud does exist so before handing over your hard-earned cash or credit card details to someone, it is vital that you research them so you can ensure you are dealing with a well-established and reputable company – typically a provider that is IATA and ASATA accredited,” says Mithas Travel Marketing Manager Aneesa Mitha.

It is very important to use a reputable travel agency, agrees Sure Travel 24-7 Consultant Director, Taryn Agliotti. “Agencies that belong to ASATA have to reach certain criteria to become members, which means they have standards they need to uphold. They work with reliable partners and operators to get travellers the best deals and also offer safe, secure methods of payment which goes a long way towards preventing fraud,” he said.

Nicole Poupard from iGo Travel provides this advice to travellers: “Avoid companies who ask for your credit card details and passport copies before they have quoted you, and look for reviews on their social media page. If you want to take it one step further, look at the quantity of those reviews over the period of time that the social media page has been active.”

 

Insist on ASATA-accredited travel providers. 

Also Important to note is the supplier that your travel agent is acquiring their travel from. Angela Wood, marketing manager Thompsons Holidays, says the best course when planning a holiday is an ASATA-registered travel agent who will be familiar with reputable service providers that are ASATA-registered wholesalers.”

The Travel Corporation MD South Africa, Theresa Szejwallo, agreed. “We work closely with our travel agent partners in South Africa to ensure they are given the support they need to provide flawless holidays for their customers. In addition to our 70 years’ of experience in guided holidays and initiatives like our rand guarantee, we are proud ASATA members and comply with the association’s Code of Conduct and Constitution so that we can assure our travel agent partners and consumers that if they travel the Trafalgar way, they can travel with peace of mind that they have entrusted their holiday in the hands of an ASATA member.”

Look out for the ASATA logo on websites and adverts, cautions Alet Steyn, General Manager Wendy Wu. “Customers need to be very cautious. Look for red lights like if there is an urgency for payment and you need to give your credit card details over the phone to secure your reservation quickly. Always verify banking details on the invoice given and do proper research, reading through the terms and conditions thoroughly.”

 

Identity theft threat

According to Louise Tordiffe, spokesperson of the South African Bank Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), what often happens is that criminals set up bogus websites offering specials on certain gifts, from holiday accommodation to air tickets.

“The victim will then click on the website as it looks professional and the cost appears to be cheap. The victim purchases using their credit card details thinking they are buying from a genuine company. The purchase goes through but the victim never receives the goods as the website was fake. The criminals then have access to bank customer’s bank details and can use it fraudulently including stealing the identity of the victim,” explains Louise.

 

How consumers can protect themselves:

* Do not trust websites you do not know

*Ensure that you are on a secure website and not a ‘spoof’ site by clicking on the security icon on your browser tool bar to see that the URL begins with https rather than http

*Don’t fall for offers that are available at a very cheap price. If it seems to be too good to be true, they usually are.

*Do not send emails that quote your card number and expiry date

*Never click on a link when requested to confirm your banking or personal details

Giving immigration advice for New Zealand – what you can legally do

All South African visitors to New Zealand now require a visitor visa. This recent change may increase the number of client requests you receive for New Zealand immigration advice.

A client might come to you for advice on how to get a visitor visa or relocate to New Zealand, how to fill out a visa application, or ask you to represent them to Immigration New Zealand.

What can you do?

Did you know that only licensed or exempt advisers can legally give New Zealand immigration advice? Exempt individuals include current New Zealand lawyers and Immigration New Zealand staff.

As a travel agent based in South Africa you can:

  • Provide information to clients directly from an Immigration New Zealand visa form or the Immigration New Zealand website;
  • Fill in a visitor visa form for a client, under their direction. This means that they tell you what to write on the form, you do not advise them;
  • Submit the application to Immigration New Zealand, as long as you haven’t provided advice;
  • Direct clients to the Immigration New Zealand website so they can complete the visa application themselves;
  • Direct clients to the New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) website where they can find a licensed immigration adviser in their area.

What can’t you do?

Travel agents who are not licensed or exempt cannot:

  • Advise a person on what New Zealand visa they are best to apply for or qualify for;
  • Advise a person how best to answer a question in a New Zealand visa application form;
  • Represent a person to Immigration New Zealand;
  • Use knowledge or experience in New Zealand immigration matters in any other way to advise, direct, assist or represent a person in regard to any immigration matter relating to New Zealand, whether directly or indirectly, and whether or not for gain or reward.

Don’t risk giving unlawful New Zealand immigration advice.

It’s important that you are honest to Immigration New Zealand when you assist clients with visa applications and declare your help. If you or the client is not honest, the visa application may be declined and Immigration New Zealand may refuse to deal with you in the future. 

Becoming licenced

There is more information available on the IAA website about becoming a licensed immigration adviser.  People from all countries, including South Africa, are able to become licensed New Zealand immigration advisers following a course of study that can be completed online.

The IAA Fact Sheet for Travel Agents can be found here. If you need further information or have any questions, please email info@iaa.govt.nz.