How to start a Travel Agency business in South Africa

By Lebohang Mofokeng 06 July 2017

Firstly let’s take look at what travel agency is? A travel agency is a travel business that sells the temporary use of accommodation, guided tours, cruises, adventures holidays, car hire reservations and online booking services to the public. The retail travel agency business provides various options for operating a business.

The three sectors to this industry are

1. Retail travel agency ( service providers who charge mark- up fee for their professional services)
2. Wholesalers (selling bulk product to retailers) and
3. Tour operators (handle group travel).

Policy and Requirements

If you intend on selling air travel tickets through a retail travel agency, a Diploma in International Air Travel Association (IATA) diploma. This is the benchmark for the travel industry, and provides credibility to deal with suppliers and partners in the travel Industry Membership with a professional body like ASATA (Association of South African Travel Agents) is advisable as it will ensure that service standards adhered to, membership also inspires confidence and integrity of the travel agent and his/her business.

Business Structure and Legal Issues

The formal requirements for operating a business in South Africa, is to firstly register the business entity as either a Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Private Company (Propriety Limited) Close Corporation (cc) or as a (Pty) Ltd Company. The Business name, trade mark, the type of business. And any other patents have to be registered
with the CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission) in order to start operating the business and to register on government database as a service
provider. Advice may also be obtained from institutions like the SEDA (small enterprise development Agency) and the NYDA (National Youth Development Agency) on how to structure your business.

Marketing and Advertising

The Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) can be approached to register your business into the provincial tourism database which provides information to the public about
tourism facilities and services that are available in the province. Businesses are also encouraged to promote their businesses on social media platforms (Linkedin, Facebook, twitter, Instagram and Google Adwords). Traditional media in the form of Radio, Television and Print Media can also be used to promote the business.

Financial Issues

In terms of applying for financial assistance to Fund your business venture. The financial institutions require a comprehensive business to detail how you intend on
managing the risk of running a business.

The business plan should include:

•Executive summary – summarizes and provides an overview of the document.
• Overview of the business – describes the business, the vision and mission, the legal structure of the entity.•

Industry analysis – trends demand outlook, barriers to entry and growth, impact of innovation and technology, impact of economy, government and financial health of the industry.

Market analysis – understanding your target market, its demographics •

Marketing strategy – details how you plan to sell your products/services, how you plan to promote your product/services in an effort to attract potential customers. The strategy describes your product, the pricing methods used, how you plan to distribute you product/services and in which locations, also
includes the different marketing communication tools (e.g.PR, Advertising, Events and sponsorships) that will enable you to reach your potential customers.•

Management and operations plan – organizational structure, roles and
responsibilities , and support (professional services)

Strategic implementation plan – staff, staffing issues, systems, communication, bookkeeping, equipment, software, office, furniture, fixtures, land and buildings, research and development.

Financial plan – Is there to provide a reliable and detailed financial breakdown of costs, revenue, profit, cash-flow projections

Supporting documentation and supporting documentation – any research from primary and secondary research sources that provide a factual basis for the business plan.

Tourism Support and Resources
1. Southern Africa Tourism Services Association – represents major role players including airlines, coach operators, tour operators, accommodation establishments, car hire companies and more
2. Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa – aim is to facilitate access to markets for disadvantaged tourism enterprises.
3. Tourism Grading Council of South Africa – is responsible for the star grading system to ensure improvement and high standards across all areas of the tourism industry.

Useful Contacts
Department of Trade and Industry
Physical address:77 Meintjies Street,
Sunnyside, Pretoria, 0002
Tel:0861 843 384

South African Tourism Service Association

3rd Floor, Petrob House, 343 Surrey Avenue
Ferndale, Randburg
Tel: 086 127 2872

TEP (Tourism Enterprise Partnership)

3rd Floor Travel House
6 Hood Avenue, Rosebank
Tel:011 880 3790


(Federated Hospitality association of
South Africa)
Petrob House
343 Surrey Avenue
Tel:0861 333 427

Gauteng Tourism Authority

11th Floor
124 Main Street
Tel:011 085 2500

A business plan

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Where to get Funding

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