South Africa Draws Nordic Tourists

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The perception of South Africa as a secure destination, along with favourable currency exchange, is encouraging to the Nordic market, which, for the first four months of 2016, recorded increased South African tourist arrivals.

According to figures released by Statistics South Africa for the first quarter of this year, arrivals from Denmark were up 12.36 percent and Sweden 14.97 percent. Norway showed a decrease of 6.49 percent and statistics for Finland were not individually recorded by the bureau.

From Copenhagen, Patrick Menzies, SAA’s Manager – Sales and Marketing for Scandinavia, Finland & Baltics, reports a 12.6 percent increase for the four countries from January to April, with concomitant increases in the airline’s passengers.

“However, without the unabridged birth certificate issue, one could speculate if this increase would have been higher,” he says. Menzies points out that in 2015, South Africa was the region’s sixth most popular long-haul destination, although with just under 90 000 tourists it trailed well behind the USA, which attracted almost a million Nordic travellers, and Thailand with 750 000.

“The serious expansion of Norwegian Airlines’ non-stop long-haul offering to the US, coupled with a good selection of other long-haul non-stop services, determines the travel pattern of the general public,” Menzies says.

Safety And Security

Operators differ on the question of the Nordic traveller’s sensitivity to security threats. Pernilla Landstedt, Director/Partner of Propel Africa Destination Management, based in Cape Town, says, “The Nordic travellers seem to continue travelling all over the world despite the different threats in the world.”

Suzanne Benadie, Sales and Marketing Director of Your Africa in Johannesburg, says some aspects of South Africa, such as crime, do concern potential Scandinavian travellers. However, overall, Southern Africa is seen as safe, although getting the message across is often complicated by the perception that Africa is one country.

Rune Engstrøm, Director of Destination Africa in Norway, says, “Lots of people see Africa as one place. They hear about crime and so on, but when you get a chance to talk, they understand fast that 99 percent of tourist destinations, especially in Southern Africa, are very safe.”

With the Rand at low levels, South Africa has extra appeal for the Scandinavian market. US-dollar-priced countries are seeing the mid-market pull away from them, as the Nordic countries with currencies affected by the dollar (Norway and Sweden) feel their package prices increase substantially due to the currency exchange – in some cases by over 20 percent in the last year.

Climate is, of course, another attraction for the Nordic countries, which endure long, dark winters. Travel mostly takes place in the European winter season, between November and March. A very big factor for the Nordics is the chance to go to warm and sunny destinations.

Compiled by: Melissa Jane Cook. Source: Travel and Meetings.