Why Agents Should Sell South Africa


Marc S. Cavaliere, executive vice president, North America, for South African Airways

At the Luxury Travel Expo, we got a chance to chat with Marc S. Cavaliere, executive vice president, North America, for South African Airways. Cavaliere says between 350,000 to 380,000 visitors are expected to visit South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. What surprised us most, however, is that the majority of tickets sold were bought by Americans. In fact, according to Cavaliere, Americans have bought roughly twice as many tickets to the games as travelers from the UK.

For a sport that isn’t exactly considered a favorite among Americans, this is surprising. But perhaps the most significant part of South Africa’s hosting of the event is the impact it will have on tourism for years to come. The country invested roughly $2 billion to improve infrastructure from everything from hotels to roadways. “Because they are hosting the event, they made improvements to the country that will boost tourism long after the event is over,” Cavaliere says.

But before you sell South Africa, Cavaliere says there are some myths that need to be clarified to agents. According to Cavaliere, agents are under three  misconceptions: : getting there is difficult, staying there is expensive and selling the destination is hard. There are flights that can get you to South Africa in less than 16 hours from New York, which isn’t bad when you consider it is on the other side of the world.

South African Airways offers packages including hotel, flights and tours for under $2,000 per person. And as far as selling the destination? “You don’t need a Ph.d. to sell South Africa,” Cavaliere says. In fact, through Travel Agent University, many agents have become specialists in South Africa. “There is a lot that agents don’t know about South Africa,” Cavaliere adds, “and one of them is how easy it is to become an expert of the destination. Hopefully, we get that message across at this show.”