This month is UK month

  • 02 March 2015 | Cassidy Parker
Many British visitors to South Africa hail from London. Image courtesy of Anirudh Koul

The United Kingdom is one of South Africa's largest long-haul travel market, in terms of the number of arrivals, and travellers from the UK are among the highest contributors to South Africa's tourism economy.

Perhaps it's something to do with an innate pioneering spirit (after all, Britain – and England in particular – explored, and also colonised, countries across the four corners of the world), but travellers from the UK are among the highest outbound travellers in the world. Statistics suggest that they travel to the United States quite a lot, but also to India, Canada and various countries in Africa – South Africa among them.

Your British visitors are likely to enjoy experiencing South Africa's natural beauty. Image courtesy of Tara Turkington/Flow Communications

Friendliness and hospitality are important to travellers from the UK

Nearly 90% of the trips made by UK international travellers are for leisure purposes, most of which are taken as part of organised tour groups. The number of British travellers coming to South Africa for business, however, is on the rise. Leisure trips tend to be more than a week in length – in fact, often almost two weeks – and it is likely that the British guests you encounter will visit several different parts of South Africa during their time here.

Most British travellers are between the ages of 25 and 54, and are professionals. They also often come from London, which makes sense since this is the city with the highest gross disposable household income per person in the UK.

Like many other travel markets, your British guests are likely to enjoy visiting South Africa's natural attractions and experiencing wildlife. These aspects of travelling in South Africa, together with the pleasure of visiting family and friends and, importantly, the hospitality that they encounter are all drivers of travellers' satisfaction.

When dealing with your British guests, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:

  • UK citizens are referred to as British. Terms such as 'English', 'Scot/Scots/Scottish', 'Welsh' and 'Irish' may only be used when heritage is certain
  • Qualities such as politeness, reserve and restraint are usually admired among the British
  • Although appearing cool and aloof, Scots are passionate and sentimental about their country
  • The Welsh love their country and its heritage; singing, talking and family unity are valued
  • Two-thirds of Northern Ireland has Scottish and English roots; the remaining third are Irish. The Irish value friendliness, sincerity and nature. Family is very important
  • The British are reserved, which makes them appear rather aloof, but they are generally friendly and helpful once introductions are made
  • Britons will raise their hand to summon a waiter – they won't shout
  • Business entertaining takes place over lunch, with the person who extended the invitation expected to pay the bill
  • Punctuality is important – be on time
  • Britons tend to get down to business at hand after a few moments of polite introduction
  • Business protocol is observed in business interactions. Meetings are usually scheduled well in advance. Presentations should be formal and detailed
  • Business dealings may be better facilitated by using a well-connected third party as initiator

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland. Image courtesy of Giuseppe Milo