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Destination Garden Route sees growth potential at WTM Africa 2019

Destination Garden Route at WTM Africa

Destination Garden Route exhibited at the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa in Cape Town last week on the regional tourism body’s Garden Route & Klein Karoo stand.  Local tourism offices as well as other private tourism products from different parts of the region were represented at the stand.  This created a vibrant atmosphere, with different products referring interested buyers to each other in a concerted effort to collectively sell the Garden Route and all its offerings to the travel trade present.

With over 3,000 (international) trade visitors from major source markets as well as newly established markets, it was encouraging to see the interest for the Garden Route.  Where major source markets like Germany, The Netherlands and other European countries have had the Garden Route on their books for quite a while, the smaller markets like the Eastern European block as well as other countries on the African continent showed a keen interest to start introducing the Garden Route to its clientele.   Where these markets may currently still be small in the number of visitors coming through, it opens up the opportunity to get into these markets right from the beginning. 

Representation

Destination Garden Route was represented by co-founders Lukhanyiso Giba and Ypie Kingma, and represented the Mount Knysna *****, Brenton Blue Tours and Travel Roam Wander.  Where Brenton Blue Tours has been in existence for more than 20 years, the guided tours on the Garden Route were well-received, especially by the 50+ markets and those operators from countries where people drive on the righthand side of the road, and/or people do not speak English (very well).  The flexibility in vehicle sizes available as well as the ability to provide different language guides if or when required were well-received. 

The Mount Knysna struck a chord with the high-end operators, looking for an exquisite boutique hotel in the heart of the Garden Route.  With 5 rooms, a rimflow heated swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean, Featherbed Nature Reserve as well as the Knysna Lagoon, an in-house restaurant, wine cellar as well as 12-seater cinema, this luxury establishment definitely made an impression!

Travel Roam Wander specializes in photographic (multiple) day tours led by professional photographer Alfred Lor, who also shot the background image for Destination Garden Route’s table and was instrumental in creating a collaborative video presentation about beautifully rebuilt Knysna, which was also presented to the press and interested operators at a press briefing held during WTM.  His tailor made individual tours certainly created interest in the youth and millennial market who is generally looking for a more authentic ‘rather meet the locals than visit a zoo’ experience while on holiday.

Speed Marketing

On both Day 2 and 3 all exhibitors had the opportunity to ‘pitch’ their products to the international buyers in 5 minute ‘speed marketing’ sessions.  Although it is always challenging to find the ‘right’ operators in the short space of time provided, a further 25 international operators were introduced to Destination Garden Route and the products it represented at the show. 

Show follow up

While being at a travel show is important to establish a brand ‘out there’, it is equally if not more important to follow up afterwards.  Once Destination Garden Route has provided all product info to the operators it met with, it will then provide the products it represented with the full list of operators who showed interest in their product, for further follow up. 

Furthermore, all products represented have been included in packaged tours which will be presented to the international as well as local travel trade for further exposure at a later stage.  The different packages are themed around ‘Meet the Locals’, ‘Eat, Drink & Discover’, ‘Family Time’, ‘Active Outdoor: Adventure, Nature & Golf’ and ‘Luxury Living.’

With almost 100 new connections made over just 3 days, a genuinely more positive outlook on the economy, politics and tourism industry in South Africa than last year and the increased recognition for the brand Destination Garden Route as the #GardenRouteExpert WTM Africa can only be seen as a highly successful show, with spin-off to the region in general and the individual products in particular undoubtedly showing within the next year if not within the next couple of months.