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European Visitors to Swaziland On the Increase

Posted on: Friday, May 01, 2015
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The rate of which visitors from Europe arrived in Swaziland soared by 17 percent in 2014, as over 100,000 Europeans visited the country as opposed to 85,000 the previous year. This was revealed by the Swaziland Tourism Authority (STA) and the Department of Immigration. In their 2014 Arrivals by Country Report, STA said the overall rate of inbound tourists’ arrivals grew by a significant 2 percent in 2014, as 1,324,621 visitors were recorded, as opposed to 1,298,803 the previous year. Although of the total, 1,177,815 were from Africa, marking 0.7 percent increase from the previous year’s 1,169,823. 

From Africa, South Africa had the most number of visitors at 856,492, although marking a decrease from the 2013 figure of 875 632 of South Africans who visited Swaziland. About 219,555 Mozambicans visited Swaziland in 2014, up from 213,827 in 2013, and thirdly was Zimbabwe with 58,624 up from 39,253 in 2013. However, Europe had the largest increase at 16.8 percent, with 100,308 visitors arriving into the country in 2014, as opposed to 85,905 in 2013.  The European country that had the greatest number of visitors to Swaziland was Germany, followed by the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, with 21 669, 17 874, and 15 813 visitors respectively. 

Meanwhile, the second highest increase was the North and South American region, which recorded an increase of 9.1 percent. 22,685 Americans visited Swaziland in 2014, an increase from 20,784 the previous year. 17,359 of these came from the United States of America. Asia and Australia recorded the third highest increase in arrivals, with 8.9 percent. About 18,445 visitors from that region came to Swaziland in 2014, as opposed to 16 934 in 2013. Meanwhile, the Middle East region recorded the least increase, with 0.2 percent. 5,369 visitors from that region visited Swaziland in 2014, as compared to 5,357 in 2013. Of these, 4,242 came from Pakistan. 

“Marketing and promoting Swaziland in many avenues has helped” - STA

 Following the release of the inbound and outbound travel statistics for January 2015, Swaziland Tourism Authority (STA) is humbled by the significant increase of arrivals into the country, and attribute this to several possible factors. In an interview, STA Marketing Manager Bongani Dlamini said the entity engaged in numerous international outreach and marketing initiatives aimed at raising the profile of the country as a destination of choice in Africa.

“We took our publicity drive to world platforms, as much as we intensified local and regional marketing as well. STA last year attended several shows, which included one of the world’s biggest tourism trade show, the ITB in Berlin,” he said.

 

Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) is said to be the world's largest tourism trade fair. According to Dlamini, the companies represented at the fair included hotels, tourist boards/councils/authorities, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies from all over the world. He outlined how they came across one Dutch tour operator in Berlin, who STA had sponsored in the past on a familiarisation tour to Swaziland, marketing the country through brochures he developed. His company, said Dlamini, is called Travel World Walter. 

“Walter actually took time out to assist us translate our messages to the Dutch who visited our stand in Berlin, and that, to us, shows the positive spin-offs of these familiarisation tours that we regularly sponsor,” he said. 

 

Dlamini said STA also attended a tourism expo in Mozambique, where Swaziland’s stand won the overall best stand prize. STA also attended the World Travel Market (WTM), an annual travel show staged in London, England. He said Swaziland also had a stand at the annual Tourism Indaba Expo, which is touted as Africa’s leading industry exhibition. Indaba Expo was hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government at the plush Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre in Durban. 

“We were fortunate enough to get over 10 tour operators accepting our invitation to visit the country, having attended Indaba Expo. They all expressed amazement at what they saw and experienced in Swaziland, and went on to create special packages that promoted the country to their clients,” he said.

These tour operators were from USA, Netherlands, Germany, England, Kenya, South Africa and South Korea. They also met local media at Mountain Inn, where they confirmed their eagerness to market Swaziland. 

 

Meanwhile, Dlamini said his organisation appointed a UK based travel marketing firm, Geo Group UK, which not only manages and develops content for Swazi tourism website, but also sends promotional packs on Swaziland to the rest of Europe. “Geo Group,” said Dlamini “Came to the country last year in May, to engage with the local industry, and set up a resources website accessible to world tour operators. The resources website, profile all local tour, travel, and hospitality establishments.” 

“During Geo-Group UK’s seminar with the local industry, a question was posed on why we generally had low arrivals from the Middle East and Asia. We explained that, due to our constricted budget at the moment, our major thrust has been the traditional markets; Europe and North America. However, it is within our plans to expand to other regions as and when resources become available,” said Dlamini.

 

Dlamini said there was an increase in French tourists’ arrivals to STA-sponsored educational tours for travel media. He gave an example of a French publication, Le Petit, which came to the country on a familiarisation tour, and were already putting together a book that focusses on Swaziland. Due out in June this year, the book will be distributed to France and all other Francophone countries. Some of the expos that STA attended last year included Meetings Africa in South Africa, the World Tourism Summit held in Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as the Swaziland International Trade Fair, among many others. 

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