Five Questions With Bangu Masisi, President of South African Tourism’s North America Division

Cape Town South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa // Photo by Kieran1/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

As part of our “Five Questions with…” series, Travel Agent chats with Bangu Masisi, president of South African Tourism’s North America Division. 

Masisi tells us first-time visitors to the country remain South Africa's largest market segment while Millennial travel continues to increase to the country.

Get more details on the latest news and trends from South Africa by reading on. 

1. What is your proudest accomplishment to date as South African Tourism's North America president? What are some remaining goals you'd like to achieve in this role?  

Having just been in the market for a year and a half, seeing an increase in U.S. arrivals to South Africa of 16.8 percent for 2016 is an especially proud achievement for me and my team.

This is testimony that South Africa is becoming a more familiar long haul destination for Americans. Engaging with the trade to amplify efforts to promote the destination’s “safari-plus” proposition has also been a highlight.

2. What is the hottest topic/juiciest tourism news currently in South Africa? What is trending as far as markets, types of trips, booking patterns, etc.?  

We are seeing that travelers are hungry to experience variety and want to engage with local communities. 

Visitors are coming for adventure and safari, the culinary and wine scene, and to enjoy diverse art experiences in our cities and regions - an example of which is the wonderful art walking tours by The Maboneng Township Arts Experience, which give travelers a glimpse into local homes turned art galleries in the townships just outside of Johannesburg and Cape Town. 

With initiatives such as this, travelers can really get to know the warm and friendly people of South Africa. Art and design is also a growing area for South Africa with exciting openings like The Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, which is the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art and will open officially in September. 

Regarding our markets, we have noticed that first time visitors to the country remain our largest segment, while Millennial travel is increasing to the destination as well. A huge benefit to anyone traveling to South Africa, is that the destination offers travelers incredible value for money. It has never been a better time to visit. 

3. If I had only 72 hours to spend in all of South Africa, how would I spend it?  

I would start in Johannesburg by taking a deep dive into the vibrant culture and growing art scene of the city. Discover its many contemporary art galleries, independent boutiques, colorful neighborhoods and its revered street art (Johannesburg has been labeled the World Capital of Street Art)

Next I would head to Pilanesberg National Park & Game Reserve for a taste of Africa’s great wildlife. Just a three-hour drive from "Joburg," it is home to the "Big 5" and travelers can choose from a wide variety of luxury game lodges. Here you can get up close to elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and feel worlds away from the bustle of the city.

And finally, as the last stop, I would be sure to make time to enjoy the laid-back vibes of Cape Town, spending time on the glorious white-sand beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay.

4. Where is your favorite place to travel and why?  

Apart from South Africa, I can't get my love of Italy out of my head. History, architecture, villages hanging off the cliffs, coastal towns and more. One of the most memorable experiences in one of my many visits was when I attended an Andrea Bocelli concert in his Tuscan village.

5. Where are you off to next? Any personal info or news you’d like to share?  

I’ll be off to South Africa next week for our annual Indaba, but I’ve just returned from my first visit to Mexico and look forward to exploring the Caribbean, as well as seeing more of the U.S. while I’m here.

Visit www.southafrica.net and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @Travelpike and Instagram @pike5260.

Want more “Five Questions with…” stories? Check out a recent feature we did on George D. Szigeti, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, by clicking here.