The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) and Wesgro jointly hosted 45 buyers from across Africa for the first Garden Route Mega Fam, last week.
The initiative covered five different itineraries that showcased activities, attractions and accommodation in George, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn and Plettenberg Bay, in an effort to expose buyers to the best that the Garden Route has to offer.
Proceedings kicked off with a round-robin workshop where 35 Garden Route tourism suppliers, ranging from boutique hotels and tour operators to lodges and tourist attractions, shared what the Route has to offer. This was followed by three days of first-hand experience of some of the offerings for travellers.
The experience, termed ‘Discover the Garden Route’, saw buyers being split into five groups, with each group experiencing a different itinerary. Some of the destinations in the itineraries included a Point of Human Origins Tour, an ostrich farm tour, Cango Caves Heritage Tour, ziplining, Ocean Odyssey whale watching, and elephant experiences.
Fellow participant Prashant Ramlakan from African Pride added: “I knew the Garden Route was special, but didn’t realise how special until now. Think of anything, and it can be done on the Garden Route.” Jacolene van der Merwe from Dragonfly continued that she gained destination knowledge that will help her with her client’s experiences in future. “I’ll ensure accommodation is booked in more central areas, so tourists can get to as many things as possible,” she added.
Peter Dros, Satsa Garden Route Chapter Chair, said: “We have Satsa to thank for initiating the Mega Fam and could not have imagined what a fantastic opportunity it became for local suppliers to connect with local buyers of tourism product and experiences.” Dros further thanked Wesgro for its support of this inaugural initiative, saying the organisation’s efforts helped to realise the event.
Chief Operating Officer of Satsa, Hannelie du Toit, said this first Garden Route Mega Fam served as the basis for future such events, not only in the Garden Route but across South Africa.
“Satsa represents a broad footprint of the inbound tourism sector, and a successful collaboration like the one we have just seen between Wesgro and Satsa paves the way for future Mega Fams organised by other Satsa chapters and destination marketing organisations.”