SA Rugby Travel, a division of Tourvest Destination Management’s (TDM) Sports, Leisure division in South Africa, has been appointed the official travel agent for the eighth Rugby World Cup Sevens (RWC 7s) 2022.

This is the eighth time SA Rugby Travel has been appointed the agent for the event. This year, the RWC 7s will take place in Cape Town from September 9 to 11.

COO of TDM’s Sports, Leisure and B2C environments, lllana Pereira, elaborates in the Q&A below.

Q: Why do you think SA Rugby Travel was appointed the official travel agent for this event?

A: It is a privilege for SA Rugby Travel, which is the official travel partner of the SA Rugby Union and this partnership brings together the strength of SA Rugby combined with the largest diversified travel operator in South Africa. This ensures that we will provide the South African public with the best value and experience for all rugby travel both locally and internationally. 

Q: SA has good experience hosting world-class sporting events. Do you anticipate any further challenges post-COVID and how can they be addressed?

A: Whilst we fully expect that, by September, South Africa’s National State of Disaster would have been lifted and most COVID-19 restrictions abolished, we are already working on re-establishing international sports leisure travel around and into South Africa.

To this end, we have all the processes in place to mitigate the risk to health; hygiene and safety; hotel choice; transportation and logistics to operate successfully in an environment where we need to provide peace of mind to our local and international sport fans.    

Q: What happens, for example, should there be another highly infectious variant of concern and the event is cancelled – what are the contingency plans?

A: Plans are in place to ensure that all fans enjoy the best possible RWC 7s experience. However, in the unfortunate event of a cancellation due to new variants or anything beyond our control, SA Rugby Travel, through its relationship with its supply chain, has the ability to contract services in a manner that would allow us to cancel with no penalty for our fans.

Together with SARES (SA Rugby Events and Services) and SARU (SA Rugby Union), SA Rugby Travel remains mindful of the ongoing complexities around COVID-19, and will ensure that the relevant communication is always shared, to keep our clients updated as best as possible.    

Q: What is the general outlook for sports tourism in SA – is it bullish or more subdued and why?

A: It is our experience at the moment that, due to the inability of the South African public to attend any major sporting events over the past two years, there is a substantial pent-up demand to seek out that exceptional experience at these sporting events.

As a result, we believe the travel requirement may be higher than pre-COVID-19 times. We can see evidence of this already in the Rugby World Cup 2023 France bookings and others. It is a very exciting time in the sports industry.  

Q: What sort of uptake (spend, numbers of people attending etc) are you expecting?

A: We anticipate excellent take-up from the South African market and have already received huge interest from individuals and corporate companies. 

We are also looking to appoint sub-agents in various countries globally that will aid with sales for clients travelling to South Africa for the event as well as pre- and post-tours. The response has been exceptionally positive. 

Q: Which countries (source markets) do you believe will show the most interest, and why?

A: I do, of course, believe the biggest fan base will be our own South African fans. The event is taking place in our beautiful Cape Town and we expect the majority of fans to flock to the Mother City from around the country to relish in the experience. 

I believe that we will see many sport fans from England, as they are travel ready and they have also been restricted from travelling to major sporting events outside the UK for a few years now. South Africa is easily accessible and great value for money and I am certain we will see great interest from the UK.  

Q: Can you give us an idea of the type of packages SART will offer. Will they include a leisure and/or incentive element that will showcase SA as more than a sports destination?

A: South Africa is not only a sports destination and, as such, SA Rugby Travel offers various package options, giving our clients the ability to choose the one that fits their requirements. 

This varies from a basic three-night package including accommodation, transfers and match ticket, to a longer stay that includes pre/post leisure options. We offer hospitality packages for corporate clients as well. Our packages provide our various clients with a range of travel solutions that allow for flexibility and turnkey solutions, based not only on how they would like to experience South Africa, but also ensuring we showcase all it has to offer.

Q: Any other comments?

SA Rugby Travel is exceptionally excited about the RWC 7s being held in South Africa as we believe it will successfully restart a sustainable sports environment with benefits to all the products we operate, including RWC 2023 in France; youth sports tournaments that take place in Cape Town annually; and Cape Town E-Prix, to name a few. 

This also re-energises the tourism industry and all its stakeholders after a two-year battle during the COVID-19 period. I see this as a catalyst to restarting the sports tourism environment.