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In the case of NYC the SAA flight from Johannesburg to NYC is relatively full - remember you have chosen the easter period. By moving it one week to 21APR, the fare is Down to USD887.
When I am speaking to clients who are deciding which country to visit next they are often comparing SA flight prices from London to other long haul destinations such as Asia and the USA which are comparative in length (11 hours). These routes are almost always significantly less expensive than flights to SA, regardless of when they are booked. Although i do agree, from experience, that if you are looking to get to SA at short notice it is really going to cost you. The other thing to remember is most tourists are not going to Johannesburg for their holiday so they will need connecting flights to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Kruger etc and this immediately adds on another few hundred pounds return. When added to the overall holiday cost, this reduces the competitiveness of SA as the value gained by lower costs in country is lost by the cost of getting there.
Tour Operators should be adamant to ensure back to back tours are arranged or in such manner that travelers do a road trip inclusive of the itinerary.
Apologies - but I am not clear what you mean by being adamant on a back to back tour? With regard to road trips, these do often (not always) form part of itineraries, but not from JHB, hence the need for add-on flights.