Holidaymakers looking to celebrate Christmas and New Year at the coast will this year have the option of joining Cruises International’s first round-trip cruise holiday along the South African coastline.
George Argyropoulos, head of Cruises International says there is plenty of potential for the South African cruise market. Image:
George Argyropoulos, head of Cruises International says there is plenty of potential for the South African cruise market. Image: My Press Office
Two luxury cruise liners, Seabourn and Oceana, will depart from Cape Town and stop at Mossel Bay, East London, Durban, Richards Bay and Maputo in Mozambique before returning to Cape Town two weeks later.
The Oceana will also sail to Walvis Bay in Namibia.
Cruises International said while luxury cruises had gained increasing interest among South Africans, the industry was still largely untapped. Cruises International represents nine international cruise lines.
Because of an increase in piracy on Africa’s east coast, cruise liners are exploring the west coast, presenting new destinations to be explored and an opportunity for southern African countries to develop their cruise tourism sector, says Cruises International’s Managing Director George Argyropoulos.
SA’s coastline covers about 3,000km, but South Africa has no cruise ships on its registry.
Lack of cruise ships hurts tourism revenue
Mmatšatši Ramawela, head of the Tourism Business Council says South Africans are embracing cruise holidays. Image:
Mmatšatši Ramawela, head of the Tourism Business Council says South Africans are embracing cruise holidays. Image: South Africa
Earlier this month SA Maritime Safety Association’s (Samsa) Chief Executive Tsietsi Mokhele said the lack of cruise ships was limiting economic flows from marine tourism into the country, even though SA benefits from passengers spending money when they disembark from foreign-owned cruise liners and take part in shore-based activities.
Mokhele said a lot more economic benefits would accrue to SA if there were more locally registered cruise liners.
Tourism Business Council of SA’s Chief Executive Mmatšatši Ramawela said that while South Africans were “embracing” cruise tourism, it was not to the extent seen in other popular destinations across the world.
“It is an important growth area. It is something that we as an industry and the public sector nationally need to rally around to see how we support the companies involved in this market,” Ramawela said.
Samsa is developing a strategy to increase participation in leisure activities and holidays along the country’s coastline, and at its dams and lakes, to the benefit of surrounding communities.
SA lagging behind the rest of the world
Cruises International markets mainly to those South Africans who can afford to go on an overseas holiday. It estimates that between 1.5m and 2m South Africans go on overseas holidays annually
The Oceana is going to starting offering cruises along the West Coast to Walvis Bay. Image:
The Oceana is going to starting offering cruises along the West Coast to Walvis Bay. Image: Cruise Mates
“Cruises International sells only 15,000 cruises a year – which is about 1% of its target market, and a significantly smaller market penetration compared with the 13% in the US and 5% in the UK,” Argyropoulos said.
“So we are still very far behind, but I think as we become more affluent and the income distribution becomes more equitable, we will see an increase in people going on cruises,” he added.
He says that sometimes cruise tours are used by companies to incentivise clients or employees and distributors to meet certain targets.
“What we found initially is that they (black middle-class) went as delegates and then we saw them the following year coming with family and friends,” he said.
Argyropoulos points out that the cruise industry is an area of growth for the country’s tourism sector but it is not without its problems. “SA is far from the major client source markets in Europe and the Far East,” he said. “There is a big gap of destinations that have not been friendly to cruising all the way to this country,” he added.
A lack of attractions for guests to visit when the ships dock at certain ports is also a challenge.
“So for a German, European or Far East to come to South Africa on a cruise is unlikely. We just don’t have enough attractions and it’s a very long voyage,” Argyropoulos said.