Prevue asked Stroebel Bekker, Head of Sales, North America for South African Airways, for his thoughts about cultural and creative programs and events.
Q: What are some of the most highly creative group programs that you’ve hosted?
A: South African Airways (SAA), like many other U.S. companies today, is committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and as such has incorporated CSR into many incentive programs that are beyond the traditional tourist sites. SAA’s commitment to several worthy causes in Africa has enabled us to bring incentive groups to local communities, schools and orphanages where they have an opportunity to meet the people, learn about their culture and help them. We have found that many of the groups and/or individuals who have taken part in this develop a long term commitment to the cause either on a company or individual level.
Q: What are some of the most popular and unique cultural venues that host group events in Africa?
A: At South African Airways, we have found that many groups incorporate a safari into their meeting and/or incentive program. While on safari, generally the group will have a “boma” dinner one evening, whereby you sit under the stars and enjoy traditional South African food. Entertainment options are also available that focus around the local culture.
As South Africa is also well known for its wines, some groups have opted to have a wine and culinary experience in the Western Cape region.
Q: How does Africa incorporate community into group events?
A: SAA believes that to learn about the culture of South Africa, the best way to do that is to actually meet the people of our magnificent country. South Africa’s many cultural villages offer a close-up insight into the country’s traditional cultures. In the major centers, township tours—which are conducted with sensitivity and pride—will put you in touch with real South Africans and their history. In the rural areas, community tours help you get to know the country through the eyes of those who live here. One such tour is a Soweto township tour whereby a group can immerse themselves in the urban vibe of the place that was at the heart of the freedom struggle. A tour of Soweto not only includes national heritage sites, but vibrant restaurants and clubs.
Q: What festivals can planners incorporate into events?
A: Many planners incorporate one of the largest festivals in South Africa, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. It features 40 international and African acts on five stages and also includes photographic and art exhibitions.
Q: What are some restaurants/cuisine reflective of the destination’s culture?
A: A very distinctive regional style of South African cooking is often referred to as “Cape Malay.” This cuisine is characterized by the use of spices such as nutmeg, allspice and hot peppers. The Cape Malay influence has brought spicy curries, sambals, pickled fish and variety of fish stews. Bobotie is a South African dish that has Cape Malay origins. Due to the geographical location of South Africa and the heritage of its people, South African cuisine has something to offer every palate.