While South Africa adjusted its Coronavirus risk strategy to Level One, three bold Cape Town partners took matters into their own hands to start forcing a tourism recovery to support their businesses and the wider Cape Town and South African tourism sector.
The in destination activation was held over three days (11, 12 and 13 October 2021) in Kyiv, Ukraine and included the promotion of South Africa and Cape Town to a variety of travel and trade role-players, tourism officials, the Ukrainian Kyiv City administration, tour operators and agents.
The leader of the delegation – Johan van Schalkwyk from the Aquila Collection noted: ”while we saw substantial support from Russia over the last three months, our data furthermore indicated a notable increase in enquiries and visitation from Ukraine to our Cape Town Big 5 safari properties and therefore we decided to strike while the iron is hot and plan an in destination activation using Kyiv as the hub to make sure Cape Town – and our tourism businesses – are top of mind for travellers in the immediate post traumatic period of the pandemic''.
Heidi Wahl from First Diamond in the Cape Town CBD stated that: “Ukrainian families and visitors were frequenting their studio and supporting the recovery effort over the last 3 months and we were excited to partner and collaborate to infiltrate a new and inspiring market”.
The Cape Town office of Turkish Airlines joined the initiative to support a recovery to South Africa and Cape Town. Trevor Brown was excited to partner with this initiative to unlock a potential new market “as our route between Kyiv and Istanbul is the second most supported globally and the connection to Cape Town is easy and hassle free – making it an easily and accessible exotic destination for Ukrainians”.
The group of Cape Town businesses put heads together and decided to promote the Mother City and South Africa to support their business strategies to achieve growth from a new tactical market with an untapped base and major appetite for South Africa.
Trevor Brown further noted that the Turkish Airlines connection both in and outbound allow for an enjoyable overnight flight with arrival in time for a comfortable check in either in Ukraine or South Africa – with connection out of Kyiv, Lviv and Odessa. At the same time, Heidi Wahl recommended that "every global traveller to South Africa should invest in a dream time piece of local exquisite jewellery to remember their experience by buying the best diamonds available globally – in the heart of Cape Town“.
The visit was endorsed by the South African Ambassador to the Ukraine. Mr Ambassador Andre Groenewald and he gave his Missions full support to grow the opportunities of tourism and trade between the two regions.
According to Johan van Schalkwyk the market is ripe and ready to experience South Africa. The South African borders are wide open and ready to receive global visitors with only a negative PCR test prior arrival requirement. He added that “while there might be some minor visa regulation currently prohibiting exponential growth from Ukraine, Mr. Ambassador Groenewald committed to work with the Cape Town team to improve the relations between the region and improve travel between Kyiv and Cape Town as our engagements in Ukraine most certainly proved a tangible appetite for travel to Cape Town”.
While various meetings took place over a number of days, including a formal introduction to Ukrainian Tourism official at the Kyiv Administration, facilitated by Ambassador Groenewald, the team had a prime opportunity to present Cape Town (and South Africa) to 50 preselected travel professionals at a breakfast networking session hosted at the magnificent BEEF Meat and Wine Restaurant in Kyiv. These travel and trade invitees have all shown a keen interest in Cape Town and are ready to work with the partners to unleash the wonder of South Africa to their customers.
The South African Embassy in Ukraine contributed to the success of the visit with Ambassador Groenewald participating in two of the engagements, including with the Kyiv City Administration and the breakfast meeting with a number of tourism agencies and operators.
Ambassador Groenewald in partnership with the Cape Town delegation also hosted a wine-tasting and tourism event at the Official Residence. Ambassador Groenewald said: “The Embassy’s participation forms part of the Ministry of Tourism’s Global Advocacy Programme to re-activate the tourism industry in South Africa. Ukraine and Eastern Europe are attractive and under-utilised source markets that could contribute to the revival of the tourism market in South Africa”.
He added: “One of the challenges in promoting tourism to South Africa from Ukraine is the visa regulations. Addressing this could open a flood gate of tourists to South Africa. Government and the private sector will have to partner on this important aspect to take advantage of the tourism opportunities for South Africa”.
The Official Residence function was also an opportunity for the Cape Town partners to promote South Africa and show true South African hospitality to the Ukrainian stakeholders, authorities and business partners. At the function a true South African taste of fruit chutney, milk tart, local wines and true South African hospitality was presented and well received.