Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Mon March 02 2015

SAA Vacations Puts Troubled 2014 Behind with 2015 Brochure Launch

Tour Operator | South African Airways | David Cogswell | March 02, 2015

SAA Vacations Puts Troubled 2014 Behind with 2015 Brochure Launch

PHOTO: Victoria Falls seen from a helicopter. SAA Vacations introduced a new program including Victoria Falls, "The Smoke that Thunders." (Photo by David Cogswell)

After a tough year when the market for travel throughout Africa was broadsided by the Ebola panic, South African Airways Vacations is charging into 2015 with a new brochure and new offerings. Among the new programs for 2015 are a new escorted tour series, more family programs, an East Africa great migration tour and a tour built around Nelson Mandela’s struggle for democracy in South Africa.

As the private label tour operator for South Africa’s national carrier, SAA Vacations offers a broad range of styles of programs, including many designed to attract first-time travelers to Africa.

The South African tourism industry knows from experience that once travelers have gotten over the hump of their first visit to Africa, a conversion process takes place and getting them to return is not difficult. But being the carrier that introduces so many first-time visitors to Africa also has drawbacks.

In the case of the Ebola panic, it was the first-time visitors who were most affected by the fears generated by the overblown media coverage. People with a familiarity with Africa were more likely to understand that the threat of Ebola was localized and had no real effect on practically all of the major tourism destinations on the continent of Africa.

SAA Vacations, along with the African tourism industry at large, is hoping to put 2014 far behind with its new programs.

SAAV’s 10-day/seven-night escorted group tour-South African Journey is an introductory package that focuses primarily on Cape Town and the Kruger National Park area, combining the urban pleasures of The Mother City with an adventure among the wildlife of the South African bush.

The new South Africa and Victoria Falls Explorer includes explorations of Cape Town, Greater Kruger National Park, Zambia and Victoria Falls. It’s priced from $3,999 per person, and that includes the airfare, as do all SAA Vacations packages.

Sure to be a big hit is the Nelson Mandela Journey to Freedom Tour. It’s a 10-day/seven-night program that follows in the footsteps of South Africa’s greatest leader through his life in Johannesburg, his experiences at Cape Town and of course his decades of incarceration at Robben Island, a ferry ride from Cape Town.

A big selling point on the Mandela tour is that the whole package, transatlantic air included, comes in at $2,599.

Terry von Guilleaume, president of SAA Vacations, is already seeing a strong rebound from 2014. 

“We expect strong growth in our South Africa programs and  a renewed interest in some of our most adventurous destinations such as Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania,” he said. “It could not be a better and more affordable time to explore some of the top wonders of the world that Africa has to offer.”


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