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ASATA trade asked to join SA Tourism domestic drive

South African Tourism is engaging with ASATA members to help it inspire South Africans to travel around their country and encourage a culture of domestic travel.

This comes as SA Tourism’s Domestic Tourism Marketing Strategy has been allocated a budget of R100m this year, R105m next year and R107m the following year. SA Tourism’s current Sho’t Left Domestic Marketing Campaign will be expanded to include the idea that there is always a first time to experience something new and that every weekend provides an opportunity to do something that the South African tourist has never done before.

SA Tourism has done a domestic survey which identified the top five reasons for not travelling domestically over the past three years, including: could not afford to travel, no reason to take a trip, time constraints, unemployed/no income and disliked travelling.

Economic constraints are the biggest barrier to domestic travel. Approximately 48% of the adult population of SA cannot afford to travel and are unemployed or have no income. Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) remains the major reason for domestic trips and the number of domestic trips increased in 2014 compared to 2013. The number of holiday and business trips taken in 2014 decreased compared to 2013 and were even lower than 2012 levels.

South African Tourism has as its aim to educate and empower South Africa’s travel trade to take advantage of the potential of domestic travel through market insights and real-life experiences.

ASATA and South African Tourism will be working together to promote domestic tourism through ASATA travel agent members with such initiatives as roadshows, educationals, information updates and regular forums.

Existing tools to help trade sell the destination already exist:

SA Specialist is an interactive online learning programme that will improve your knowledge of South Africa.

Thousands of destination photos have been commissioned by SA Tourism for use in all collateral. These can be downloaded from FlickR and are free for use. Please credit SA Tourism.

SA Tourism has produced research reports on domestic travel that are free to access for all trade members.

SA Tourism Video 

Should you wish to find out additional information,check out the SA Tourism Domestic Strategy.

Why use an ASATA TMC?

As the travel industry grows more competitive, TMCs are continuously expanding on the quality and type of services they offer. They can arrange all types of domestic and international travel, from hotel accommodation to air and ground transportation, including car rental needs and tour packages. They can provide assistance with travel insurance protection, passport and visa applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel requirements. Many also offer meeting planning and incentive travel services. 

Choose your TMC much the same way you would your doctor or lawyer: your travel agent should be a professional who has the qualifications, know-how and skills to assist you with all your travel needs.  Furthermore, your TMC should be an accredited ASATA member.

How can an ASATA member help you:

Demystifying Travel: The world of travel is complicated and very dynamic. ASATA-accredited TMCs are equipped with industry knowledge and news to ensure your travel is seamless and uncomplicated. TMCs can help you sift through the daunting world of travel to find a travel solution that suits your budget and needs, as well as demystify some of the more complicated areas of travel.

Costsavings: ASATA-accredited TMCs have strong working relationships with suppliers and cutting-edge technology that enables them to access extensive travel product and information and the best value fares and rates. TMCs work for you, the corporate, and your business travellers, not for the travel supplier.

Trust: ASATA members are bound to a strict code of conduct that dictates the terms of their membership. As such, you are assured that the TMC you are dealing with is a bona fide member of the travel sector following best-practice management and operations.

Expert Guidance: ASATA Professional Travel Consultants use their extensive knowledge and experience to manage your corporate travel spend, organise seamless business travel and provide proactive reporting and advice to guide your travel programme. Our Professional Programme works actively to enhance the skills of member travel agents.

Fighting your battles: ASATA is a travel thought leader lobbying on your behalf for better travel conditions. ASATA acts an impartial arbitrator in grievances against ASATA members. We provide advice and can investigate and make recommendations on matters raised.

Convenience: An ASATA member can source all aspects of your business travel, including air tickets, accommodation, car rental and much, much more. Our TMC members have all the information at their fingertips, saving you time and money.

21st Century TMC: ASATA-accredited TMCs benefit from cutting-edge research into the future requirements of travel agents helping them position themselves to fulfil the evolving needs and requirements of corporate travel.

Duty of Care: Risk management is one of the primary strategic objectives of most travel programmes and ASATA-accredited TMCs help their customers find a way to aggregate booking data from disparate sources to continue to meet their duty of care objectives.

Travel With Peace of Mind: ASATA’s slogan – Travel with Peace of Mind – underpins the role ASATA-accredited TMCs play in the business travel space. Entrusting your travel to an ASATA member, you are assured that you are working with a professional TMC that is not only bound by a strict code of conduct, but also believes in ethical and professional provision of travel services.

ASATA CEO co-wins Business Traveller Africa award

ASATA CEO Otto de Vries has jointly won the Business Traveller Africa Business Travel Personality of the Year award this week along with the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) CEO David Frost for the “tireless work they’ve done in challenging the changes to South Africa’s immigration regulations on behalf of their members and the broader industry”.

South African Airways, Emirates, Tsogo Sun, HRG Rennies Travel and Avis also emerged as the big winners at the event, held in association with Absa at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on 1 September 2015.

Both SAA and Emirates were ‘double’ winners, with SAA picking up the top award in the ‘Best African Regional Short-Haul Airline’ and ‘Best African Long-Haul Airline’ categories, whilst it lost out in the ‘Best Business Class’ category to Middle Eastern airline Emirates, which also picked up the ‘Best International Long-Haul Airline’ prize. Travelport won the prize in the category of best GDS.

In the main hotel category, the ‘Best South African Hotel Group’ award went the way of Tsogo Sun, as it has done in the past three years, ahead of fellow nominees City Lodge, Legacy Hotels & Resorts, and Sun International. Protea Hotels has traditionally been a nominee in this category, but since the Marriott International acquisition of Protea Hotels in 2014, the group has since become a brand of Marriott. As a result, it was Marriott who walked away with the ‘Best International Hotel Group’ award, thanks in large to its significant South African presence through Protea.

Another repeat winner was HRG Rennies Travel, which edged out American Express Travel Services, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and Travel with Flair in the ‘Best Travel Management Company’ category.

Avis also successfully defended its ‘Best Car Rental Company’ title, holding off the challenge of Bidvest Car Rental, Europcar, First, Hertz and Thrifty.

This year saw one new category being contested – ‘Best African Low-Cost Airline – with Comair’s Kulula the inaugural winner in this category, ahead of Fastjet, FlyAfrica, FlySafair, and Mango.

Launched in 2012 in association with Business Traveller Africa magazine, the awards ceremony is an event for the South African business travel trade, covering all aspects of business travel, including hotels, airlines, car rental and travel management, along with related categories such as travel credit card provider, foreign exchange, visas, private aviation and  conferencing.

The full list of nominees and winners is as follows (in alphabetical order):

African Long-Haul Airline

  • Air Mauritius
  • Air Namibia
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Kenya Airways
  • SAA (winner)

African Low-Cost Airline

  • Fastjet
  • FlyAfrica
  • FlySafair
  • Kulula (winner)
  • Mango

African Regional Short-Haul Airline

  • Airlink
  • Air Mauritius
  • Comair (BA & Kulula)
  • Mango
  • SAA (winner)

Airport Business Lounge

  • Bidvest Premier (ORTIA – International)
  • Emirates (ORTIA – International)
  • SLOW Lounge (ORTIA – Domestic)
  • SLOW Lounge (ORTIA – International)
  • Virgin Atlantic (ORTIA – International) (winner)

Business Class

  • British Airways
  • Emirates (winner)
  • Etihad
  • Qatar Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic

Business Hotel in SA

  • Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre
  • Fairway Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort
  • Michelangelo Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Gautrain
  • The Maslow Hotel (winner)
  • The Westin Cape Town

Car Rental Company

  • Avis (winner)
  • Bidvest Car Rental
  • Europcar
  • First Car Rental
  • Hertz
  • Thrifty

Forex Supplier

  • American Express Foreign Exchange (winner)
  • Bidvest Bank
  • Travelex

Global Distribution System

  • Amadeus
  • Sabre
  • Travelport (winner)

International Hotel Group

  • Four Seasons
  • Hilton
  • Hyatt
  • Marriott (winner)
  • Starwood

International Long-Haul Airline

  • British Airways
  • Emirates (winner)
  • Etihad
  • Qatar Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic

Large Conference Venue

  • Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre
  • Cape Town International Convention Centre
  • Emperors Palace
  • International Convention Centre Durban
  • Sandton Convention Centre (winner)

Luxury Hotel in SA

  • Michelangelo Hotel
  • One&Only Cape Town (winner)
  • Oyster Box
  • The Taj Cape Town
  • Twelve Apostles

Private Aviation Operator

  • Air Charter Service
  • Comair Flight Services
  • ExecuJet (winner)
  • Federal Air
  • NAC

Small Conference Venue

  • African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa
  • Blue Lagoon Hotel & Conference Centre
  • Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
  • Fairway Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort (winner)
  • Focus Rooms
  • Indaba Hotel, Spa & Conference Centre
  • Lagoon Beach Hotel
  • Misty Hills Country Hotel, Conference Centre & Spa
  • RoomFive
  • The Blades
  • Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani
  • The Maslow Hotel

South African Hotel Group

  • City Lodge Hotels
  • Legacy Hotels & Resorts
  • Sun International
  • Tsogo Sun (winner)

Travel Credit Card Provider

  • American Express
  • Diners Club (winner)
  • MasterCard
  • Visa

Travel Management Company

  • American Express Travel Services
  • Carlson Wagonlit Travel
  • HRG Rennies Travel (winner)
  • Travel with Flair

Travel Sales Team

  • Beachcomber Tours
  • Bidvest Car Rental
  • Corporate Traveller (winner)
  • Flight Centre Business Travel
  • Protea Hotels
  • Thompsons Travel

Visa Service Provider

  • Blade Express (winner)
  • MDS VisaPak
  • ROSE
  • Visas & Passports Unlimited
  • Visa International

All you need to know: LH Distribution Cost Charge

Next week marks the bold move by Lufthansa Group to charge a Distribution Cost Charge for every booking on an LHG airline – Lufthansa, Austrian, Brussels and Swiss Airlines – processed by a GDS.

The airline is directing travel agents to use its Lufthansa Group See here for full details LH_VK-1860 FAQ_Lufthansa Group agent com_EN 09Jun15_v3 proofread.

While the charge will not be implementable in certain markets due to local legislation, it is being rolled out in South Africa from September 1. Meanwhile, ASATA is seeking legal opinion on the legality of such a charge in our South African market.

The move has raised the ire of several travel agent associations including the World Travel Agents Association Alliance (WTAAA) of which ASATA is an active member, as well as travel agent groupings. This week saw a leading group of corporate travel agents begin a policy of non-cooperation with Lufthansa. Advantage Focus Partnership corporate director Ken McLeod declared: “This fee is unacceptable in its current form. Make no mistake, the distribution network in its current form will be irreparably damaged by differential pricing on this scale by a major airline.

The Business Travel Coalition and a broad group of travel managers and travel management company executives from around the world are also sending  a letter to Lufthansa Group, the U.S. Department of Justice, the European Union’s Competition Commission and Germany’s Bundeskartellamt, which you can read here.

So, what do you need to know:

DCC amount: The DCC, currently set at €16 in the Eurozone, will be converted into the rand price at the time of ticket issuance.

Fare transparency: Requests in GDSs for fare quotes that include all taxes and fees will automatically include the DCC. A display in any corporate booking tool whose ticketing is enabled by a GDS also will include the fee.

Implementation: Lufthansa will implement the fee using a YR-IATA tax code until the OB field is implemented across all technology providers. When the OB field is implemented, the total fare will still be displayed.

Code-shares: The DCC will not be applied when a Lufthansa-operated flight is sold and ticketed as a code-share, but agents must be aware that they cannot book a code-share for every transatlantic Lufthansa flight. At least one leg of a code-share itinerary must be operated by the plating carrier. In addition, certain services offered by an operating carrier, such as premium economy, pet carriage and special meals, may not be appear in the display of the marketing carrier.

Refunds and exchanges: The DCC is non-refundable even if the fare is refundable. If the agent is using an automated refund tool, manual intervention may be required to prevent the refunding of the fee. The fee will not be reassessed if the ticket is changed, regardless of the nature of the new itinerary.


Airport official suspended for soliciting unwarranted ‘fines’ for Immigration Regulations non-compliance

An alleged fraudster, who attempted to solicit fines from minors at OR Tambo International Airport claiming that they had the incorrect documents to travel according to the newly implemented Immigration Act, has been suspended following a rapid response by The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA).

The airport official was said to have approached a group of schoolgirls travelling on a student exchange after they had successfully checked-in and presented all documentation to the airline check-in staff.

The group of schoolgirls were allegedly forced to accompany the official to an ‘interview’ room and were denied access to a female official leaving them traumatised and distressed.

According to the victims, the official claimed that they did not have the correct paperwork to travel and demanded a R500 ‘fine’ be paid before being allowed to depart South Africa. This is despite their documents having been vetted previously by their travel agent and accepted by the airline staff upon check-in as valid.

Upon news reaching their travel agent, the matter was escalated to ASATA, which in turn ensured it was dealt with speedily through the correct channels.

“It is so important that travellers fully understand what their rights are and that this kind of behaviour from an official is unacceptable,” says Otto De Vries, CEO ASATA.

“We would urge members of the public to inform themselves about the full requirements of the Immigration legislation, consult with their ASATA travel agent to ensure they comply, and refer any similar incidents to the Association so that these may be dealt with swiftly and effectively.”

“We simply cannot have situations where the officials in whom we place our trust undermine the process and cause our travellers undue distress,” concludes Otto.