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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Eswatini explores the Dutch Market at the Vakantiebeurs Show in The Netherlands

Eswatini Tourism Authority continues to drive its mandate to encourage responsible travel in the Kingdom of Eswatini and promotes Eswatini as a preferred destination. Eswatini Tourism Authority recently explored the Dutch market by participating in a travel show dubbed Vakantibeurs Trade and Consumer Show. The show was held in The Netherlands from 10 -14th January 2024.

Background

Vakantiebeurs is a leisure and tourism show where travel agencies and Tourism Associations from all across the world gather around at a single spot and present their countries and market their travelling agencies. Visitors can gather information about the most exciting and mind-refreshing tourist spots and can establish contacts with various travel agencies from all across the world. There are various events and shows which help visitors gather information and there are various games and quizzes that include vacation trips and adventure travel tickets as a reward.

Vakantiebeurs attracts mostly Dutch travel agencies, over 65 thousand visitors, journalists from 30 countries, 135 exhibitors, politicians and diplomats as well as a cross section of global tourism representatives inclusive of Chief Executives, marketing managers from tourist boards tour operating companies and hotels and other similar establishments from all over the world. The show was held in Jaabeurs Conference and Exhibition Centre in Utrecht, Netherland from the 10th– 14th January 2024. Eswatini was housed in hall 7 and occupied stand E039 alongside Malawi and Namibia.

Marketing Programme

Vakantiebeurs offered Eswatini Tourism Authority an opportunity to distribute over 300 generic brochures, 400 Maps and 250 Big Game Parks leaflets to both consumers who indicated interest to come to Eswatini and the members of the travel trade (Tour operators and Travel agents) who wanted the information to promote Eswatini to the consumers within their reach.

Other tourism business such as meetings with a cross section of the trade, media officials, tour wholesalers and operators took place at the Eswatini stand. The literature was used to provide information and paint a better picture of destination Eswatini to all stand visitors. Each visitor was given Eswatini country brochure, flyers, maps and Big Game Parks brochures throughout the 5 days of the show. The brochure is an impressive publication and very comprehensive as it details the country’s culture wild life scenery, events among other key selling points but it also gives information of the available accommodation facilities and other points of interest in the country, so it was very well received by the Dutch visitors to the Eswatini stand.

Although it came in 2020, Eswatini’s inclusion in Lonely Planet’s prestigious Best in Travel awards as a Top Country was still something to utilize for marketing purposes during the Vakantiebeurs and the stickers were attached in all materials issued out to visitors. A website QR code was also used to drive traffic to the website of the kingdom of Eswatini and visitors still preferred to have hard copies of the destination. 

Stand Design

The Eswatini stand was a 16m2 custom made colourfully decorated with Swati related designs to lift the stature of Eswatini as a destination and showcase the country’s different product offerings such as the people, wildlife, adventure and scenery.  The sole aim of the custom-made stand design was to execute a dynamic promotional programme that includes, but not limited to a global advertising campaign through its display of the four pillars of our tourism offering.   

Daily Business

Eswatini Tourism Authority’s continued its annual programme to take advantage of the sequence of the biggest tourism show to attract tour operators and travel media practitioners to Eswatini post Africa Travel Indaba which has become part of our tourism marketing calendar. The ETA has a daunting task of increasing the number of tourists coming into the Kingdom to 2 million by 2027, as such there is a need to vigorously market the destination to source markets to realize the set target.

Literature

The show itself was very busy and it had a very high attendance from locals, the stand was very busy with inquiries, a lot of the Dutch community speaks Dutch with limited English especially with the older visitors. The majority of visitors were fifty years and above mainly coming as couples with a few coming with family members. There was also a good number of young people who were looking for outdoor thrill and adventure while there was also an increased number of visitors who were on wheelchairs asking if Eswatini is wheelchair friendly. The Destination video on display was able to pull a lot of passer-by traffic to pay attention to the Kingdom of Eswatini stand. On average, per day there were over 300 visitors to the Eswatini stand with very high number on Friday 11 January and Saturday 12 January. On Saturday the show ended at 8:00 pm while there were still a number of people visiting stands.

Most of people who visited the stand were those who once visited Eswatini as part of a group facilitated by a tour operator, spend a day or two in Eswatini then passed to Kruger or Hluhluwe/ St Lucia and are planning to return as a couples or family to spend more days in Eswatini. These kinds of visitors were requesting itineraries or packages that are Eswatini specific with a duration of a week or more. Others were those who had not been to Eswatini or never heard of Eswatini were given brochures, business cards and a draft itinerary to consider when choosing to visit Eswatini. There was also a good number of those who have pending trips to Eswatini and they are looking for more information they may have not got from their tour operators, again, those were taken through the destination video and also given brochures and maps of Eswatini. There were also those who had just returned from a trip involving Eswatini, they stopped by to give feedback of which all of it was positive.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the best time to visit Eswatini?
  • What are the points of interest in Eswatini?
  • Why did the country change name?
  • Is it safe to visit Eswatini?
  • How do I get to Eswatini?
  • How many days can I spend in Eswatini?
  • Can we get assistance if we travel alone (not part of a tour group)?

Appointments

The Vakantiebeurs exhibition show provided a unique platform for discussions, encounters and the cultivation of contacts around the globe. Vakantiebeurs 2024 reaffirmed its position as the international centre for worldwide tourism. The ETA & BGP officers utilised this unique platform for communication with various stakeholders in order to establish the directions to be taken for the coming season. There were a series of engagements with various players in the industry players with the intention to promote Eswatini as a premium destination in Southern Africa. Some of these meetings entailed persuading tour operators to include Eswatini in their itineraries, persuading those that already service Southern Africa to include Eswatini, more especially increasing the number of days from two to three.  As a top event for the travel industry, Vakantiebeurs was a massive success. The figures provide impressive confirmation of this fact.

The Future of Eswatini Tourism

Eswatini’s continued future in tourism depends on its presence in most of the world’s tourism platforms where both trade, tourism practitioners and government agencies come together to do business in tourism. These platforms give Eswatini an opportunity to learn, cooperate and compete with other destinations to attract tourism business to Eswatini. Such platforms also enable Eswatini to raise its profile both as a stand-alone destination and also as part of the Southern African destinations that deserve placing in the tour operators and travel media’s agenda for the region. Moreover, the participation of Eswatini enables her to network with her counter parts, thus get invaluable experience that enables the country to mark time with the latest trends and decide its positioning as a destination in context of its competitors and the global market place.