Nordic markets show resilience

Denmark, Norway and Sweden showed resilience as source markets to SA, with no significant dip in arrivals experienced during the second half of 2014, according to the stats released by Statistics SA (Stats SA). This is despite the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, which had an impact on emerging and even established source markets. The Nordic market is also largely protected from SA’s new immigration regulations, which impacted travel from emerging markets.

Arrivals from Denmark saw the biggest annual increase out of all the Nordic countries with 11% growth year on year. Leisure travel increased from 21 431 arrivals in 2013 to 23 728 in 2014. Tourist arrivals from Sweden increased by 4%, with leisure tourists up from 36 348 in 2013 to 37 901 in 2014. Arrival numbers from Norway in 2014 were very similar to those in 2013 with a slight decrease of 0.3% in total from 18 276 to 18 227, while overall leisure arrivals dropped by 1%.

For all three markets, leisure travel was the highest during the first and fourth quarters of both 2013 and 2014, with a dip in leisure travel happening during the second and third quarters, showing a trend of opting to holiday predominantly during SA’s summer months, Nordic winter months.

Collectively, the region accounted for 82 806 arrivals to SA in 2014.

Carlos Ferraz, from CREDO Travel Marketing, a specialist in the Nordic region, told Tourism Update that the top end of the Nordic market tends to be more resilient. “The Nordics are extremely well educated and global and mostly know the size and distances in Africa,” he said, commenting on the impact the fear of Ebola has had on travel to South Africa from key markets

SA Tourism closed its office in the region years ago, Ferraz said. He said that in order to sell SA more effectively, better material is needed to market the destination.

Rune Engstrøm from Destination Africa based in Oslo, Norway, said: “I believe that with proper marketing potential is huge. If you look at the Nordic market, it is only 26 million people. But, those people have the highest average income in the world, and travel a lot.”

According to Engstrøm, flight connections from the Nordic region are increasing, with plenty of airlines travelling between Oslo to SA. Emirates launched Oslo services last September and Norwegian Airlines has announced that one of the first long-haul destinations they are looking at for next year is South Africa.

Finland is also part of the Nordic region, however Stats SA has excluded it in this year’s publication.

From Tourism Update