Insights from German and Dutch trade representatives

There are 81.5 million German citizens and German travellers spend $81.2 billion a year on travel

Around 43% of Dutch travellers who visit South Africa come to Cape Town

Cape Town Tourism (CTT) representatives from Germany and The Netherlands addressed CTT members at the University of Stellenbosch Bellville campus.

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said both German and Dutch are big spenders in Cape Town, spending R1.3 billion and R0.7 billion per year on average. “These are still markets we predominantly rely upon for the bulk of our visitors,” she said, adding that Germany was one of the few countries in Europe that hasn’t been in recession.

CTT’s German representative, Barbara Zieme, who has 20 years' experience in the travel industry, pointed out that the German economy has remained strong, despite recession in neighbouring countries. There are 81.5 million German citizens and, according to Zieme, the “consumer climate remains stable on a high level”. Germans spend $81.2 billion per year on travel, making them the world’s biggest spenders in the market. The average employee in Germany gets 30 days’ leave a year, allowing plenty of time for travel.

“What we have is a growing demand for individualised travel experiences,” said Zieme, adding that Germans travelling to South Africa are looking for natural beauty, wildlife, culture and the big cities.

Approximately 170 tour operators in Germany offer South African packages. The largest of these include Aida Cruises, the REWE Group and Thomas Cook. Research figures from 2009 suggest that 41% of German travellers use travel agents to book holidays, due to a distrust of online payment systems.

Zieme’s tips for product owners hosting German visitors include:
• Offer different products
• Provide good service and value for money
• Speak at least a few German words
• Provide leaflets with tips in rooms
• Be punctual and don’t keep them waiting

South Africa’s competitors for attracting German travellers include the United States, Canada, China, Thailand and Australia.

CTT’s Dutch representative, Anneli Bronkhorst, said 1.2 million of the country’s 16 million people travelled abroad every year. In 2011, South Africa welcomed approximately 113 000 Dutch visitors and it is estimated that 43% of Dutch travellers to South Africa visit Cape Town.

Bronkhorst described the Dutch economy as “sluggish,” with less spend than in previous years. She also advised that KLM, The Netherland’s biggest airline, would be focusing on Argentina in the near future, which would likely result in less flight specials to Cape Town.

Summing up Dutch travellers, Bronkhorst suggested that value for money was a high priority. “They want chic, but they also want cheap,” she said, adding that they are also looking for "different" experiences. The majority of travel research in The Netherlands takes place online and Bronkhorst noted that the Dutch were particularly active on Twitter. "Although they are mainly coming for the first time, they prefer to book independently as opposed to getting a package," said Bronkhorst.

Bronkhorst advised CTT members to approach South African Tourism about hosting Dutch tour operators, and offering complimentary accommodation or experiences to promote their offering.

Download the Industry Networking Session Presentation for detailed insights into the German and Dutch travel markets.

On June 27, CTT will be hosting a visitor safety session for members at the Hilton Hotel in the city centre.

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