Q&A: South Africa
WE asked expert agent Kathy Granger, owner of Burnie Travelcentre and Smithton Travelcentre how agents can help whet clients’ appetites for this diverse nation.
Is there much interest among Australians for travel to South Africa?
Yes there is. I have many clients who are repeat travellers to South Africa and they just can’t get enough! It’s not a long flight and once there they are in a part of the world that is completely different to what we have at home.
Which areas are most popular?
Cape Town with beautiful Table Mountain is always a draw card, as is Kruger National Park. However, after the first visit, most of our clients are amazed at what else they can actually see and do in South Africa which is why they return again and again.
What are the must see highlights for first time travellers?
You can’t send people to South Africa for the first time without them doing a safari camp experience in Kruger. Game drives to see the amazing wildlife is what most clients think of when they decide to go to South Africa. Then I recommend Cape Town, the beautiful drive to Cape Point, and the Cape wine regions including Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. If they have time, the Drakensburg Mountains are another experience worth including.
What sort of travellers are visiting South Africa?
Most of my South Africa clients are experienced travellers who are ticking things off their bucket list. They’ve done Europe, they’ve cruised extensively, and now they are looking to do some of their more adventurous wish-list destinations.
Is there any time of year that is best or most popular to travel to South Africa?
Being from Tasmania, most of my travellers are looking to go to a warmer climate in our winter months, so June, July and August are the most popular times. However, South Africa is really a year-round destination — if you want the hotter weather then December to February can be over 30 in the Kruger. The rest of the warmer months are around the mid 20, so very pleasant.
What do you love about South Africa?
I am addicted and about to do my sixth trip to South Africa. Mostly I love the friendliness of the people but as a travel agent, I am finding that there are more and more things to recommend to my clients. Johannesburg has really changed from a few years ago and is now offering an experience itself, rather than just a city that you transit through. My favourite place is a place called Simonstown on the way back from Cape Point. Such a quaint little town that took me back in time.
Are FIT or tour groups more popular?
I am about to take my third group to South Africa and my experience is that first timers prefer to travel with a group and an escort, but after they’ve been once they are happy to make their own way back there in the future. It depends on the client — it is easily as good a destination for solo travellers as it is for groups and FIT, really there is something for everyone.
What should an agent consider when selling South Africa?
My first mistake when I took my first group was that I didn’t allow enough time in the more populated areas. I needed to have more time in Johannesburg and also in Cape Town as there is so much to see in and beyond the cities. Also make sure that when you’re booking safari camp experiences the game drives are included, and you consider the travel time between the camp and on to the next destination.