by DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa is experiencing a travel boom, particularly from the burgeoning Saudi Arabian market.
Sojern, the leading travel marketing platform, has released compelling insights and revealed a vibrant and diverse traveller landscape, emphasising the need for inclusive tourism to cater for the unique needs of Muslim travellers.
September 2023 has seen an uptick in weekly hotel searches compared to the previous two years, while flight searches are on par with pre-pandemic 2019 levels, signalling a rejuvenated interest and growing demand for South African destinations ahead of the upcoming high season.
South Africa is witnessing a diverse influx from top feeder markets, including the United States (24 percent), United Kingdom (6 percent), Germany (6 percent), and the Oceanic region (4 percent), after South African domestic travellers comprising 35 percent of total flight search volume since the beginning of the year.
However, the spotlight is on the surge from Saudi Arabia, which takes the fifth and seventh spots respectively for hotel and flight search volume.
This indicates a growing fascination with South Africa’s diverse landscapes, cultures and experiences and aligns with projections of increased arrivals from the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, between 2023 and 2030.
The recent rise in visitors from Saudi Arabia, with a 187 percent increase in flight searches for the start of the high season in November year-on-year, underscores the importance of fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all, including Muslim travellers.
“As the surge in travellers from Saudi Arabia highlights, South Africa continues to be an attractive and diverse destination,” said Stewart Smith, Managing Director Middle East and Africa at Sojern.
The official said it is imperative for the tourism industry to embrace inclusivity as a core value, catering for the unique needs of Muslim travellers.
“Employing a strategic digital marketing strategy to promote Halal-friendly services, access to prayer facilities, and modest and family friendly environments is essential in building trust and rapport with this growing source market,” Smith said.
Sojern believes collaborations with Islamic organisations and personalised experiences could further enhance the appeal of South Africa as a diverse and inclusive destination.
Fazal Behardeen, CEO of CrescentRating and HalalTrip, said with the high season around the corner, South Africa has a unique opportunity to showcase its hospitality and attract more travellers from around the world.
“By adopting inclusive marketing strategies and emphasising the country’s unique offerings, South Africa can reinforce its position as a top destination for tourists from the Middle East and beyond,” Behardeen said.
– CAJ News