UK tourists looking for tailor-made holiday packages and adventure!

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I missed the Cape Town Tourism member presentation by Mary Tebje, Cape Town Tourism’s Trade and Press representative in London, in Cape Town in April, and was alerted to it by Commenters to our blogpost about Cape Town Tourism’s depressing forecast for the tourism industry for the next three years.

The reality is that the UK market, the largest source market for Cape Town, is severely depressed, and this is already making itself felt in extremely poor forward bookings from that country.  The high unemployment, increased air passenger duty, fuel price increases, a VAT increase, and an unheard of inflation rate at 4,5 % have created ‘a pessimism not seen since the 1940’s’, Ms Tebje said.  This has led to the ‘staycation’, with the British being forced to holiday at home. 

The Cape Town Tourism summary of Ms Tebje’s talk is thin, but the bottom-line is that Ms Tebje recommended that tourist packages should be put together for the UK market, and should certainly include cultural experiences.  Guests would want to book a number of activities in all-inclusive packages, so that they did not have to worry about extras to pay for whilst on holiday.  This requires a collaborative approach between accommodation providers and tour guides.  In a discussion at the meeting, the ‘township tour and gum-boot dancing routine’ were felt to not be a worthy representation of Cape Town’s culture. 

Miss Tebje profiled the typical UK traveller as being the ‘over 50s market’, a booming one, which has money, and is largely interested in cultural experiences.  Day trips are popular, and should include food and wine. “Teach them to braai”, she recommended, as the UK visitors love to bring home their newly acquired culinary skills, and to talk about their cuisine experiences.  In 2010, 450000 tourists visited Cape Town from the UK, and a quarter of these came to visit friends and family. Yet Ms Tebje painted a contradictory picture of the UK visitor, saying that they spend three hours per day in the sun, and an hour and a half in the bar, according to a survey undertaken by TripAdvisor!  “In fact, we are so busy boozing and bathing that Brits often neglect cultural pursuits, rating the worst in Europe for museum visits and other cultural activities”, she said.  Ms Tebje said that the UK tourists are looking for more adventure from their holidays these days, and therefore they are now travelling to Borneo and Bolivia.

Ms Tebje said that Cape Town was competing with destinations such as Orlando and Spain too, and that the Cape Town accommodation prices were not inexpensive.  Added to this was the feedback that Ms Tebje had received from tour operators selling the Cape in the UK, feeding back to her the negative effect of the strong Rand, the high cost of flights to our country, shorter booking lead times, poor perception of value for money, and price sensitivity.

The Cape tourism industry will have to look for tourists from Germany and particularly South Africa, to survive the poor coming summer season.  It won’t include too many visitors from the UK!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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