Skift Take

It was respectful of SAAV to pull back from the promotion, but we hope it's a pause rather than a hard stop: The trip looks to be rather inspiring.

As opposed to the travel operators who are sure to quickly jump on the death of Nelson Mandela to promote their safari or hotel package, South African Airways moved quickly last night to remove a press release it had issued on PR Newswire prior to the former president and civil rights leader’s death.

The press release was originally issued on Thursday morning and was taken down shortly after it was announced that Nelson Mandela had died. Although no longer available on PR Newswire, many news websites that run press releases still had the release live late Thursday evening.

The release had announced a trip that was a tie-in with the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and took visitors on a 10-day trip to key destinations in South Africa linked to Mandela. The film starring Idris Elba, premiered in London the night of Mandela’s death.

Terry von Guilleaume, CEO of South African Airways Vacations told Skift, “We had designed the Mandela package a few weeks ago simply to coincide with the release of the movie. We have a number of marketing plans that were supposed to go out this week and next week leading up to the film.”

“We have cancelled all of them.”

“For me as CEO of SAAV it is a no-brainer to cancel any opportunities that could arise out of such a sad day.”

Full Text of Original Release:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 5, 2013 — /PRNewswire/ — South African Airways Vacations® (SAAV) has introduced a new package to celebrate the release of the film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”  The 10-day “Mandela’s Journey to Freedom,” packaged starting at $2,599* (restr. apply), will take travellers in the footsteps of the new South Africa’s founding father, visiting places where key moments of the struggle for freedom took place.  The package highlights include a cultural tour of various townships in Cape Town, as well as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. Other features include a tour of Liliesleaf, the ANC’s military headquarters which was featured in the film. The package concludes with the moving and inspiring Journey to Freedom tour, which includes visits to the Hector Pieterson Museum and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, among other significant points of interest.  This poignant and meaningful package includes deluxe accommodations at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction in Cape Town, and the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! in Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch.   To book the “Mandela’s Journey to Freedom” tour, call 855-FLY-SAAV, or visit

“As a South African, I’m incredibly proud to introduce the ‘Mandela’s Journey to Freedom’ vacation package in conjunction with the release of this important movie. We’ve taken great care to include those places where key moments of Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid struggle took place, including Liliesleaf, where the infamous raid was carried out, as well as Robben Island, where you visit his prison cell and can imagine the isolation that prisoners felt,” said Terry von Guilleaume, president of SAA Vacations. “We’re also very excited about the release of the film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,’ and are proud to have also partnered with the film’s distributors, The Weinstein Company, to raise funds to benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation.”

The film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is based on Nelson Mandela’s best-selling autobiography and is now is select theatres, with the film being in full release on Dec. 25th. SAA Vacations, South African Airways and The Weinstein Company have partnered to raise funds to benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation by auctioning off “Mandela’s Journey to Freedom” packages for two, plus two Premium Business Class tickets on South African Airways. The packages will be available for bidding from Dec. 7th-17th.  For more information, visit



The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: south africa, south african airways

Photo credit: South African Airways Vacations cancelled Mandela-themed packages. PlaceIt by Breezi

Up Next

Loading next stories