To drive and support engagements between the private and public sectors to achieve common tourism industry growth objectives, boost traveler confidence in Destination South Africa and enable a sustainable travel and tourism industry.
The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) is at the forefront of making sure that travel agencies continue to deliver ease of travel in an ever-changing world. ASATA is a member of TBCSA. This month they are featured as part of member profiling to highlight the work that they do.
WHAT DOES YOUR ORGANISATION DO?
The Association of Southern African Travel Agents is a representative forum that promotes professional service in the travel industry for its members and their clients. Representing over 90% of the travel industry in terms of market share, ASATA’s membership is voluntary and includes South African retail travel agents, travel management companies, wholesalers and suppliers of travel-related products and services. ASATA’s focus is to maintain the professionalism, sustainability, and credibility of the travel industry.
HOW DO MEMBERS JOIN?
You can join ASATA by completing an application on our website. The application process takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. A complete application is reviewed by the ASATA Board and an outcome is finalised within 30 business days. [Link to website] Apply Now – ASATA
How did the Covid-19 pandemic change the way travel agents work?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, travel advisors were forced to work from home as the country entered a hard lockdown. Although many travel advisors have returned to the workplace and physical office, flexibility in the workplace has remained, offering remote or hybrid working options. The COVID-19 pandemic also shone a spotlight on independent business models, where travel advisors could work for themselves with the backing of a reputable travel company.
Travel advisors have become well-versed in understanding and interpreting complex travel requirements, shifting from selling travel to becoming dedicated travel advisors supporting the travel journey end-to-end. During the pandemic, advisors cemented their value by helping customers navigate a complex travel world and continue to remain agile with an ever-changing travel landscape.
Please tell us more about your incubator programme and how you hope this will benefit the industry?
ASATA launched a non-profit business incubator with the aim of further strengthening and streamlining the tourism sector’s transformation agenda. Members can earn Enterprise Development (ED points) and Supplier Development (SD points) towards their B-BBEE scorecard, in an effort to drive transformation that will have far-reaching benefits across the industry.
ASATA members will help sponsor up to 60 beneficiaries per financial year and provide custom-made (needs based) programmes suited to each of the beneficiaries and their businesses, for a period of one year (aligned to the financial year-end of the funder). It will allow travel businesses the flexibility to contribute towards the transformation of several small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) that are at least 51% black-owned, rather than channelling their transformation funds to a single organisation. ASATA’s aim is for the business incubator to be industry-led with staff involved in the beneficiary selection process and transformation journey led by their employers. ASATA can also nominate beneficiaries on a business’ behalf with some guidance as to the intentions of their transformation spend.
Challenges currently faced by your members and how you feel they can be addressed?
The energy crisis and daily power cuts are massively challenging and not all members are able to source alternative energy solutions. Members that have alternative energy sources or backup generators in place, report a significant increase in overhead costs. The travel industry is resilient and although the energy crisis can be debilitating, members have found creative ways to continue with their day-to-day business, ensuring that customer service and support are never compromised. Airline capacity constraints saw a reduction in airline seats globally in 2022.
As a result, the costs of airfares soared and closer to home, capacity constraints were felt on domestic routes with the exit of Comair/Kulula.com from the South African market. Although set to normalise in 2023, airfares will not return to what they were pre-Covid, and travel advisors will continue to flex their expertise by providing guidance on the best times to book and travel based on an ever-changing travel landscape. Visa delays are problematic and a huge barrier to travel as we saw in 2022. As we approach peak periods for travel, scarcity in visa appointment dates and visa processing delays are the norm for some visa applications and we need a simpler visa process to aid outbound travel.
What benefits has your organisation derived from being a member of TBCSA
TBCSA helps ASATA lobby on behalf of the interests of the wider travel and tourism industry and offers support in marketing the destination of South Africa to South Africans through the TOMSA levy. Working with TBCSA helps to increase the visibility of the tourism and travel sector in the media and amongst stakeholders.