Neliswa Nkani

Travel And Tour World catches up with Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head South African Tourism, Middle East, Asia and South East Asia at South African roadshow in Kolkata and learns how South Africa is gearing up to attract more tourists to explore the hidden gems of the country. Nkani also shares their plans to expand their market in India.

Talks with Neliswa Nkani Hub Head – South African Tourism Middle East, India & South East Asia


Travel And Tour World: COVID-19 has shown us the biggest shift in travel experiences and the travelling has started again, so what are the measures you have taken to offer safe travel experiences to the global tourists.

Neliswa Nkani: Firstly, there has been a massive shift in travel. One of things we have made sure we’ll do in South African industry is focus a lot on digitization of our processes. But, it is no longer a pandemic and is now an endemic. We are trying to normalize travel as much as possible.

Travel And Tour World: Responsible tourism is a vital feature of the South African tourism experience and is a firm supporter of sustainable and green tourism. How you are promoting the sustainable tourism for enhanced travel experiences.

Neliswa Nkani: What is really evident is that Indian tourists are looking for is they want sustainable tourism, wider spaces and really well-lit, well air-conditioned and ventilated places. So our systems and our approaches and offerings have been really incredible. But we also have to learn to move away from fear. A lot of time we instill a lot of fear into a traveller. So, we try to normalize it as much as possible. You are donating mask, vaccine, your certificate to come to South Africa because we don’t want to instill a sense of fear. There are lots of cycle changes they are not avert with this fear. For us what is important is we have let the traveller own safety in terms of travelling. But we have also created a platform where it is easy for you to check-in, go through airports, get your rooms sanitized etc. You have sanitizers at all entrances at any given time and drivers who collect you to use sanitizers. So we have made sure that it is as easy as possible without projecting fear on it. We have operated in very highly charged environment, people were scared. But we sorted both. India has come to claim its own safety and we support that together with the tourism board of South Africa.

Travel And Tour World: MICE industry has seen a huge success in South Africa with a 35% increase in incentive travel. What is your strategic outlook to boost MICE tourism and to secure more large-scale events?

Neliswa Nkani: One of the things we focus on very strongly is collaborate with the corporate. We engage directly with Indian corporate, we have wonderful think tanks, we talk tourism, events, incentives; we do not sell to them, we talk to them about the destination. If I am sitting around with 15 corporates in the room what happens is at least 30% of them would make sure that they book South Africa. It’s been quite a success story for us. We have seen an increase in MICE and particularly in incentive space. We have seen a huge abate in cricket which is a sporting event. We have seen people coming to do their meetings, conferences in South Africa. I think it is the tone e use with the corporates which makes it a success. It is not a sales pitch, it is a destination engagement and that’s how we are acting.

Travel And Tour World: This year South Africa is celebrating 30 years of bilateral relations with India and India is the 6th biggest source market in tourism. So, what are the regions or provinces you want to promote for tourism?

Neliswa Nkani: We would like to promote the whole of South Africa. But I think what is important now is to give a piece of the cake to India from the less known provinces of the states. I’d like India to consider what lies in the Northern Cape. I’d like Free State to take the piece of the pie. Northern Cape has got some of the beautiful waterfalls in the African continent. It also allows us to see the beautiful plants that you ever see during spring. You can go to Limpopo and see the rain goddess there and meet the people there. Free State is a new province which is about 3 hours from Johannesburg. It is an hour from Setsoto. It also allows you an immersion in skiing. It is literally skiing on African continent which very few people can ever imagine or even fathom. It’s not easy from the culinary perspective to be there, it is not easy from the culture perspective also. But I think it is the people, it is home to Mahatma Gandhi and his family that is still living there. So India has a very strong cultural, culinary and people’s link. It is a 375 days’ destination which is highly affordable. Actually it is a country which offers you value for money.


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