Written evidence submitted by VisitBritain
1.1 VisitBritian is pleased to submit a
memorandum to the Committee as part of the inquiry into South
1.2 VisitBritain was launched in April 2003
and is formed out of the merger of the British Tourist Authority
and the English Tourism Council. VisitBritain is a Non-Departmental
Public Body, sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and
Sport, and is accountable to the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament
and the National Assembly for Wales. VisitBritain has two principal
roles; to promote Britain as a tourist destination overseas, and
to promote England as a tourist destination within Britain to
the domestic market. VisitBritain has offices and marketing teams
based in 27 countries throughout the world; our office in South
Africa is in Johannesburg.
2. THE SOUTH
2.1 South Africa continues to be the dominant
force politically and economically in sub-Saharan Africa and is
still playing a leading role in the new African Union after providing
the inaugural Presidency.
2.2 The country's economy is the strongest
in Africa although growth at 1.5% (year on year, quarter 1 2003)
fell well short of the 3.4% target. Steady progress had been made
as a result of the government's careful economic management, which
also sought to achieve an inflation target of between 3-6% by
the end of 2002. Inflation was almost halved to 7.7% in the six
months to May 2003, paving the way for interest rate cuts of 2,5%
to 14.5% by July with a further 1% cut in September. The Rand
has continued to strengthen in 2003, steadying below 12 to the
pound by August. The Rand's weakness had inevitably affected South
Africans' purchasing power in Britain, but only in 2002 did it
reverse the steady growth in South Africans' travel to and expenditure
in Britain, which had persisted despite FMD and 9/11 in 2001.
3. TRAVEL AND
3.1 The trend for South Africans to travel
outside of South Africa in ever increasing numbers was resumed
(after a drop in 2001 due largely to political unrest in the region)
in 2002 when 5.8 million South African residents travelled outside
South Africa compared with 3.7 million in 2001.
3.2 In recent years, Europe has lost market
share to North America, Asia and Middle East as new destinations
have established themselves in the emerging new South Africa.
There are now 16 National Tourist Offices in South Africa compared
to nine in 1992. Britain's main competitors are the USA, Australia,
Germany and France.
4. THE TRAVEL
4.1 According to Statistics South Africa,
Britain accounts for 39% of all overseas departures (ie those
outside Africa) by South Africans in 2002, and 78% of their departures
to Europe. This makes Britain by far the most popular long-haul
destination for South Africans, followed by the USA, Australia,
Germany and France. Our market share has been challenged in recent
years as new destinations have come on stream, but Britain has
so far maintained its lead.
4.2 Domestic travel remains a powerful competitor,
despite the strengthening of the Rand against Sterling, the Euro
and the US dollar, as development of the domestic product continues
and marketing effort is maintained.
4.3 Just under one-half of South African
visitors to Britain come from the province of Gauteng, the hub
of the South African economy. A significant part of the population
lives in Gauteng and this is also where the travel trade is most
heavily concentrated. The Cape Town and Port Elizabeth areas account
for just under one-third of traffic and the Durban area about
4.4 In 2002, 276,000 South Africans visited
Britain, spending £198 million. Average spend per visit only
dropped 2.5% to £713.60 in spite of the much weakened Rand.
Source: International Passenger Survey, Office for National
Statistics (IPS) 2002.
4.5 For many young South Africans, a working
holiday to Britain is now seen as an essential part of the growing-up
process. This trend is creating a new Visiting Friends and Relatives
(VFR) market as their friends and relativesoften themselves
first-time visitorsgo to Britain to visit them. The number
of South Africans taking working holidays in Britain is likely
to increase from September 2003 as regulations for applicants
are relaxed, increasing the potential for resulting VFR traffic.
4.6 Business travel by South Africans to
Britain is strong, as Britain remains a major trading partner.
This segment accounted for 20% of South African visits to Britain
in 2002 and 29% of their expenditure.
4.7 South Africans' average length of stay
has grown from 14.4 days in 2000 to 18.5 days in 2002, 10 days
longer than world average, as has the incidence of Visiting Friends
and Relatives (VFR) as a means of making a holiday affordable.
4.8 South Africans' average spend per stay
of £713.60 in 2002 was substantially (45%) greater than world
average of £489.50, but was £23 down on 2001 due to
the weak Rand. (In Rand terms, average spend by South Africans
was up by 23%). The Rand recovery and stability in 2003 (25% up
year on year in August 03) should more than make good the sterling
deficit of 02, but VisitBritain will need to maintain its emphasis
on Britain's affordability. This is an opportunity for focusing
on good value products, particularly out of London which will
further enhance the regional spread of South Africans' visits.
4.9 The South African is also adventurous
and travels around Britain more than the average overseas visitor.
Scotland and Wales have both become popular destinations for South
Africans in recent years. 9% visited Scotland (8% nights) and
3% visited Wales (1% nights) in 2002.
4.10 The South African market to Britain
has proved highly resilient, with a steady increase in spend per
visit to Britain in Rand terms since 1998. The market is also
resilient in times of crisis, one of only two VisitBritain markets
to show visits growth in 2001despite the globally-publicised outbreak
of Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK and the effects on international
travel of the events of 11 September. With the aftermath of war
in Iraq and terrorist threats a persistent reality, this resilience
offers VisitBritain a relatively low risk scenario in South Africa.
This, coupled with the stronger, stable Rand will provide VisitBritain
with an opportunity to use Customer Relationship Management, focusing
on a good value message, to rekindle the interest of "frustrated"
visitors lost to the exchange rate in 2002.
5. LATEST FIGURES
|Spend £ million||202
6. EXAMPLES OF
6.1 January, June, October 2003
Destination BritainBeginners TRAVEL AGENT TRAINING
Inside BritainAdvanced TRAVEL AGENT TRAINING
VisitBritain organises six training sessions annually for
tour operator and retail travel agency staff from all areas of
South Africa. The sessions are implemented to address a shortfall
in destination awareness training within the industry. Our primary
aim is to increase the agents' knowledge of Britain's tourist
product, boost their confidence in selling Britain and ultimately,
increase their sales of British products. Training modules feature
subjects ranging from transportation to and within Britain, detailed
product presentations on London, Scotland, Wales and regions of
England, advice for working holidays visa applicants and the importance
and value of business travel. All training sessions involve partner
presentations by eg. airlines, car hire operators and other tourism
related services and public diplomacy partners. In 2002 almost
250 agents attended the sessions. The benefits to Britain, identified
by independent research conducted by A C Nielsen, are that on
average, each consultant attending the courses generated an additional
28 clients to Britain, with a total spend of £5 million.
6.2 July 2003
Robbie Williams PromotionRadio/Internet Campaign
Partners: EMI, 5FM (national youth radio station), Virgin Atlantic
Visitbritain planned and executed a national radio competition
with 5FM (1.5 million listeners 14-30 years old) for two winners
to see Robbie Williams at one of his Knebworth Park concerts in
the UK. VisitBritain acted as the catalyst to drive the competition
to the benefit of both tourism and non-tourism partners within
South Africa. The benefit to tourism partners is still yet to
be fully realised, but our airline partner Virgin Atlantic Airways'
objectives was to increase its share of sales of economy tickets
locally in South Africa. The target audience of listeners at 5FM
fit ideally with their objectives. EMI, the local music distributors
of Robbie Williams material throughout South Africa paid for flighting
competition advertisements and provided tickets for the concert,
as well as consolation prizes for runners up. They also used the
competition to drive sales of the Robbie Williams "Escapology"
album, which did in fact improve its chart (sales) position during
this period of awareness. 5FM also promoted visitbritain.com as
the competition entry mechanism. Over 5,000 entries were received
during the three days of the competition and substantially increased
VisitBritain's youth database.
6.3 Ongoing Activity 2003
Public Diplomacy Promotions
Partners: British High Commission
VisitBritain: With the co-operation of the British High Commission,
a VisitBritain information pack is distributed to all successful
applicants for Working Holiday Visas, currently being issued at
a rate of 15,000 per annum. The pack encourages the young South
Africans to visit Scotland, Wales and the regions of England while
they are in Britain and to invite their friends and relatives
in South Africa to visit them in Britain during their stay.
7. COLLABORATION WITH
VisitBritian and our predecessor body, the British Tourist
Authority, have enjoyed and continue to enjoy good working links
with the British High Commission, the Consuls-General and the
other UK public diplomacy partners in South Africa. We would like
to place on record our particular appreciation of the current
HM High Commissioner, Ann Grant. The High Commissioner is widely
regarded in South Africa as a "breath of fresh air",
and her style, exceptional political contacts and pro-active networking
have proved to be exceptionally useful for furthering VisitBritain's
(and BTA's) marketing opportunities.