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The year that was 2019

Destination Garden Route travel trade representation 2019

As the year draws to an end, it is only natural to look back and reflect.  What happened on the Garden Route, in South Africa?  Here are some of the Destination Garden Route highlights of 2019:

Travel and trade shows

It has been a great year to connect with the travel trade, and I have realized this is what I enjoy most about what Destination Garden Route is and does.  Introducing gems based on the Garden Route to operators, agents, guides and the occasional media person is probably one of the ‘funnest’ things to do!  At least for me it is!

I was privileged to be at the Vakantiebeurs early 2019: the biggest consumer show in The Netherlands, reconnecting with the Dutch travel trade and assisting other Garden Route products and our local tourism offices where necessary.  I am looking forward to being there again next month!

World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town was another highlight and forebode of a stronger collaboration to come.  Destination Garden Route had a table on the Garden Route & Klein Karoo’s stand, which incorporated other products as well as tourism offices from our region, in a collective effort to attract visitors to the Garden Route.   Next year’s plans for WTM Africa are well underway and will surely make it to next year’s list of highlights for 2020 as well!

SATSA’s membership has not only proven to be a valuable ‘stamp of approval’ that Destination Garden Route is a credible and trustworthy company to work with, but also gave its members the opportunity to present ourselves to over 120 agents, operators and guides at a hugely successful speedmarketing event at Kirstenbosch in Cape Town.  Which was followed later in the year by 40-odd selected operators being invited on the 2nd (annual?) Garden Route Mega Fam on different itineraries showcasing the diversity of the region, offering something for everybody.  The Mega Fam culminated in another speedmarketing event at Fancourt in George and the general feedback was that the Garden Route has so much more to offer than the agents realized…. 

Of the ‘smaller’ events two stand out: the slightly nerve wrecking presentation in Tsitsikamma, where South African Tourism had invited a diverse group of about 40 South African agents, operators and consultants on an educational 3-day tour of the area.  To represent your clients is one thing, but to do it in front of your peers and potential clients is something else.  I made some valuable connections though, so will happily do that again!

And then last of the highlights I want to share with you was the collaborative effort of some 20-odd activities, experiences and restaurants mostly from the Plettenberg Bay and Knysna areas who were all eager to reach out to corporate, government and travel industry representatives in the Eastern Cape.  It just showed to me that 1. Not only the leisure market, but also the corporate and incentives industry can be a lucrative market for the Garden Route and 2. Garden Route operators see the benefit of collective marketing, even if it means their colleagues will possibly gain more from this particular exercise – next time will be their turn!

I will leave it at this for now.  There were many other highlights: the people that I travelled with, the events and festivals that happened throughout the year, the inspiration found in people and places both in South Africa as well as internationally. 

I want to wish you and your team, family and loved ones a most exciting and prosperous New Year, with many highlights to come!  Here’s to 2020!