Air Belgium now flies direct to South Africa twice a week. We look at the potential to drive visitors from Belgium to South Africa by understanding this very diverse source market’s needs, wants and concerns.
Choice of destinations for travellers
Belgium’s leading airline has expanded its services to include flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town, offering travellers from Belgium new opportunities to explore all that South Africa has to offer.
Traditional destinations such as the Kruger National Park, Eswatini and Durban top the list for many first-time visitors, while others use the airline’s Cape Town hub to explore the Garden Route and Port Elizabeth. For those who have already visited South Africa, the Cederberg region, the Drakensberg, and the Karoo are popular choices.
Belafrique Director Isabelle Dechamps says South Africa is a popular destination for honeymooners, and there is also high demand for multi-generational groups. She explains that these travellers typically book a trip between 15 and 18 days. “Cape Town is known for being very welcoming to LGBQT+, so it’s also very popular with this demographic,” says Isabelle.
Belgian travellers are known for their independence, and that extends to their holiday plans, explains Isabelle. They often prefer self-drive options, allowing them to explore everything at their own pace. Regarding accommodations, they mix luxury with mid-range to get the best of both worlds. And when it comes to service, they value friendliness and good service above all else. Among this group of travellers, there is a growing demand for experiences in the countryside.
Barriers to reaching the Belgian source market
When travelling to South Africa, Belgians are primarily concerned with getting their money’s worth. That does not necessarily mean finding the cheapest deals but rather getting what they paid for in terms of quality and safety. Safety concerns and power shortages are top of mind for many visitors.
Tips to attract Belgian travellers
Belgian travellers are increasingly using social media to get travel inspiration, whether through an Instagram post or Facebook recommendations for an upcoming trip. However, they still seek advice from traditional travel agencies.
“Customers with a smaller budget may come to the travel agency having already researched prices, while customers with a larger budget rely on the travel agency because they do not have the time to do their own research,” says Isabelle.
As a travel agent, it is important to sell the added value of working with a travel agent versus booking directly. Since safety is paramount, travel agents should provide detailed safety information and support.
It is also essential to communicate in the traveller’s home language and remember that Belgium is very diverse. The capital region of Brussels is bilingual, so Belgians are fluent in French and Flemish. The southern part of Belgium, Wallonia, is French-speaking, and Flanders – which accounts for many travellers to South Africa – speaks Dutch. Therefore, sales teams should be able to communicate in Dutch, French, German and English, Isabelle says.