Positive travel outlook from Germany and the Netherlands

CT Partnership's Zaid Minty with Cape Town Tourism’s representatives Anneli Bronkhorst (Netherlands) of WW Tourism, and Barbara Zieme of Akomasa (Germany)

Cape Town Tourism recently launched a series of workshops to give the local tourism industry access to market insights from different source countries.

This week saw the hosting of a marketing insight session on the German and Dutch markets – key priorities for inbound travel to Cape Town. Cape Town Tourism’s representative in The Netherlands, Anneli Bronkhorst of WW Tourism, and Barbara Zieme of Akomasa in Germany shared the latest trends, challenges and opportunities represented by their markets to Cape Town's tourism industry.

South Africa’s popularity as a destination is growing in Germany – the strongest economy in Europe and one of the only European markets that has not shrunk as a result of the Eurozone crisis and world recession.

Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism said, “Germany and The Netherlands are extremely important and lucrative markets for Cape Town. Maintaining and growing our position as a sought-after destination for these markets is important and we will continue to work with our industry partners, as well as trade and media from that region. This week Cape Town Tourism hosted a group of 100 top travel agents from German Tour Operator Gebeco for a mega familiarisation (FAM) trip. I have been encouraged to witness the enthusiasm for Cape Town amongst these operators. The quality of tourism product in Cape Town is lauded by German operators, awareness levels of Cape Town are high and we are expecting further growth from this market in the near future.”

Awareness levels and intention to travel to South Africa, and Cape Town specifically, remain high in The Netherlands too – despite a decline in arrivals last year. However, the 4.3% increase in arrivals from this market in January 2012 is encouraging. Both the Dutch and German markets are high spenders in the destination. German travellers spend an average of R1.3 billion per annum in Cape Town and Dutch travellers spend around R0.7 billion per annum – contributing significantly to our annual tourism turnover of R14.6 billion in Cape Town’s GDP.

Some of the highlights shared about the German tourism market included:

·         The German economy is the fourth strongest in the world, with an improved economic outlook in the first quarter of 2012 and growth in industrial output, employment and per capita income.

·         Last year, arrivals from Germany to South Africa grew by 9.3% (235 774 arrivals) and by the end of February this year, arrivals were 7.8% up on February 2011 numbers.

·         Germany’s unemployment rate is low at 6.7% (2.85 million people) and the country is experiencing an inflation rate of 1.9%

·         Germans remain the world’s number one travelling nation with 4.6% of all Germans (3.749 000) taking long-haul trips per year.

·         The expected outbound tourism growth from Germany for 2012 is 5%.

·         Safety and security in a destination remains the most important requirement for German travellers and safety perceptions of South Africa and Cape Town have improved significantly over the last few years.

·         German employees generally have 30 days holiday per year and take one major holiday (14 -16 days) per year with a few short-city breaks in between. The average stay of German travellers in Cape Town is between 10 and 14 days.

·         Growing niche tourism from Germany to South Africa includes wine and culinary tourism, adventure and extreme sports, culture and heritage, youth travel as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender tourism.

·         The main reasons Germans travel to South Africa and Cape Town are: natural beauty, wildlife, culture and urban tourism.

·         German tour operators indicate that the most popular experiences they sell in Cape Town include wildlife, scenery, luxury lifestyle, food and wine, as well as culture and heritage.

·         Germans travellers are considered to be more conservative in their use of online booking. Only 21% of German travellers research and book online, while 41% use a travel agency for information gathering and booking.

·         72% of Germans travelling to South Africa visit Cape Town.

·         40% of travellers from Germany to South Africa are repeat visitors.

Barbara Zieme shared the following top tips to attract the German traveller: Be welcoming, be punctual, offer authentic and real experiences of great value (note value not just cheap), excellent service and safety are non-negotiable, make an effort to learn some German words in addressing your clients and don’t charge single supplement rates.

The following insights were shared about the Dutch market:

·         Unemployment in The Netherlands is 6.75%. The economy has seen a slow-down in recent months but travel remains high on the agenda for the Dutch population.

·         Dutch arrivals to South Africa in 2011 were down by 7% (113 846) from 2010. This was mainly due to inflated arrivals for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

·         Arrivals to South Africa during January 2012 increased by 4.3% from January 2011.

·         1.2 million Dutch travellers are expected to take long-haul journeys during 2012.

·         The Dutch are very techno-savvy and The Netherlands is seeing a significant increase in research and booking of travel online - especially from mobile devices. Mobile internet use in The Netherlands grew by 42% during 2011. The Dutch increasingly use integrated and multi-channel information resources. More than 68% of the population is multi-channelling, using different sources of information and entertainment, often many at the same time.

·         Word-of-mouth and rating sites, such as TripAdvisor, is extremely important for Dutch travellers. There is an increase in travel decisions made on the recommendation of friends.

·         29% of Dutch citizens indicated that travel will remain a priority for 2012, despite cutting back on other expenses at home.

·         The number of long-haul Dutch holidays will continue to increase with a 3 to 5% per year minimum till 2013.

·         Airlift is the biggest barrier to travel to South Africa, KLM has the monopoly on direct flights daily to Cape Town and Johannesburg but the cost of up to €1 200 for a return ticket is often a hurdle to bookings from the Netherlands.

·         South Africa’s most significant competitor destinations for the Dutch travellers are the United States, Thailand and Argentina.

·         Responsible Tourism practises and Fair Trade accreditation are critical for Dutch travellers. They often make tourism product buying decisions based on these principles.

·         Multigenerational travel is on the increase, with Cape Town seeing an increase in Dutch families travelling with children in the last year.

Anneli Bronkhorst shared the following top tips to attract Dutch visitors: Value for money (“cheap and chic”) remains crucial and Dutch travellers are known to shop around for the best value. Be original and authentic in offering travel experiences to the Dutch – they are seasoned travellers with high awareness of Cape Town and South Africa. Offer sustainable experiences as part of your offering. Free internet access, as well as access to technology and mobile apps, is very important.

Du Toit-Helmbold concluded, “Whilst Cape Town Tourism is exploring opportunities in new markets, we believe it is imperative to maintain our position in key markets. Germany and The Netherlands have been, and continue to be, among the top five source markets for Cape Town. Marketing insights shared from these two markets saw lively debate on issues, such as dual pricing to international visitors and locals. Representatives from the Dutch and German markets agree with Cape Town Tourism that dual pricing is not advisable and leaves a negative perception about a destination with visitors. Alternative programmes to offer incentives to local citizens have to be developed. The key message from both our German and Dutch representatives has been for the local tourism industry to invest in new authentic experiences, underpinned by responsible tourism principles that take the visitor closer to the heart of the Mother City, unlocking the many layers of an unexpected Cape Town.”

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