The city in the Western Cape province of South Africa has recently opened up to the India market and is now promoting itself as a destination instead of just catering to travellers in transit.
Located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, George is a popular holiday centre and the administrative hub of the Garden Route. It is central to all the main attractions from Mossel Bay in the south to Tstitsikamma in the north and Outdshoorn in the west. A scenic day trip can be undertaken to visit these town’s activities. According to Joan Shaw, Tourism Manager, George Tourism, almost 30,000 Indian tourists visit the Garden Route each year, and George hopes to attract many more of these visitors in the near future.
Speaking about the reason that prompted George Tourism to reach out to the Indian traveller, Shaw says, “Since so many Indian tourists already visit the Garden Route through George Airport, and use our excellent accommodation facilities, we thought it was time we showcased all our attractions to them and persuade them to stay back.”
In September 2017, George hosted a group of tour operators from India. “They were so happy with our adventure and food offerings that we realised that George does not just have to be an arrival destination. Groups can stay here in the central town of the Garden Route and explore the entire region without packing and unpacking their bags everyday,” Shaw suggests.
Since many Indians visit the Garden Route through George Airport, and use our accommodation facilities, we thought it was time we showcased all our attractions to them
Catering to the Indian palate
The team at George Tourism has learned that the Indian market is fun-loving and will take part in a range of different activities. “But the one thing that we find can make or break a trip for Indian visitors is the food. To this end, we try and cater traditional Indian food wherever we can. Where we can’t, we take traditional South African food and spice it up for the Indian palate, providing them the best of both worlds,” Shaw adds. Sharing information about the kind of budgets George Tourism has allocated for the India market, Shaw says, “We concentrate mainly on our domestic markets, and then target specific international markets that travel in our off-season, which helps us combat seasonality. For this reason, we are allocating 25 per cent of our total marketing budget to the Indian market. This includes hosting of trade to attend the South African Tourism roadshow and also for digital marketing for specific regions of India.”
George’s top products
In addition to the scenic beauty and excellent accommodation facilities, George offers a host of family and adventure activities ranging from strawberry picking and family fun at Red Berry Farm to paragliding from the Map of Africa down to Wilderness beach. Visitors can canoe up the Touw River in Wilderness National Park. They can order a ‘spicy’ picnic from the Wilderness Picnic Company and relax on the banks of the river or on the beach in the national park. From the Outeniqua Transport Museum, they can board the Outeniqua Powervan for a rail experience up the mountain to spectacular views of the area. Nature and historic trails abound here under the watchful peaks of the Outeniqua Mountains that has forests, rivers and streams to make every visitor feel like they have arrived in the Garden of Eden.