South Africa’s skies are buzzing with excitement even as aviation experts and destination marketing organizations gathered at this year’s global route development conference, which was held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 15 – 17 October 2023. This global platform, where airlines, airports, and industry stakeholders converge, has become the epicenter for advancing route development around the globe.
Cape Town Air Access, powered by Wesgro won the Routes World Destination Award for the second consecutive year. This recognition highlights the importance of aviation and route development in driving South Africa’s tourism industry to new heights. The Routes World Destination Award champions the marketing support provided by destinations to their airline partners, acknowledging tourism authorities whose marketing activities have had a real impact on their future network development plans.
One of the distinctive features of South Africa’s aviation landscape is the synergy among its various Air Access teams, such as Cape Town Air Access, the Western Air Access team, and the Durban Air Access team. While competition naturally exists, they all work cohesively as part of Team South Africa, celebrating each other’s successes and achievements.
Speaking to Airspace Africa, Bronwen Auret, Acting Chief Marketing Officer at South African Tourism, emphasized this spirit of unity. She states that, “Everyone here is part of Team South Africa. Competition is natural, but there’s a lot of collaboration and procreation. Having South Africa as a team brings us all together with a common goal.” This approach leverages the strengths of each hub, ensuring a well-coordinated strategy to entice airlines and travelers alike. Since September 2022, Cape Town Air Access has assisted with the addition of seven new routes and seven new airlines to the Cape Town international route network
South Africa is strategically positioned to serve as a pivotal hub for international air travel. The return of the Chinese market, which opened professionally in February, signifies a significant milestone in the nation’s tourism sector. China is one of South Africa’s key source markets. As Bronwen emphasizes, ” it [China] is a very important strategic market, and it has always been to South African tourism. So we are looking to grow it and make sure that we can make the routes available for the passengers to arrive in South Africa.” The resumption of direct flights to this nation is expected to enhance South Africa’s appeal to Chinese tourists.
In addition, there is an ongoing dialogue about the untapped potential of connecting with priority destinations like Nigeria, Ireland, India, and Australia.
Routes World 2023 reinforces the fact that international route development is well underway, with a flurry of activities that promise a brighter future for South Africa’s aviation landscape. The event provides a space for industry professionals to work together, develop new connections, and position South Africa as an attractive destination with untapped opportunities.
South African tourism is poised to exceed pre-pandemic levels, with major initiatives on the horizon. The industry’s resilience and the collaborative efforts showcased at Routes World underscore South Africa’s capacity to reinvent itself as a world-class destination for travelers worldwide.