Mandela’s death likely to boost South African tourism
South African Airways Vacations?quickly canceled promotion of its packaged tours to Nelson Mandela-related sites upon news of the leader’s death Thursday, even as other tour operators ramped up marketing efforts of their Mandela-themed tours.
The 10-day trips were planned in conjunction with the release of film?Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on the leader’s best-selling autobiography. The biopic has sparked a number of other tours dedicated to the places his impact was most keenly felt.
“We had designed the Mandela package a few weeks ago simply to coincide with the release of the movie. We have a number of marketing plans that were supposed to go out this week and next week leading up to the film. We have canceled all of them,” Terry von Guilleaume, CEO of South African Airways Vacations told the website?Skift. “For me as CEO of SAAV it is a no-brainer to cancel any opportunities that could arise out of such a sad day.”
Coincidentally, Los Angeles-based?Great Safaris?also began promotion Thursday of its new South Africa tour,?Madiba’s Journey: In Nelson Mandela’s Footprints.
“We kind of had second thoughts about (the timing),” acknowledges the company’s CEO, Dave Herbert. “If we’d been aware (of his death) yesterday when we sent out the press release, we might not have released it at that time.”
Still, South African Tourism is running a?Mandela-themed contest?on its Facebook page with a top prize of two airline tickets to the country.
And despite concerns about the timing of promotional strategies, the death of the father of the new South Africa will likely stoke interest in travel to the country and to Mandela sites in particular.
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