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South Africa stepping up as a tourist destination of choice for millennials

South Africa is rising to the challenge of attracting millennial travellers to our shores with almost four million millennials visiting the country last year. These travellers are changing the way that the travel industry tailors experiences and markets destinations for years. Now, as millennials age, there are new aspects to consider, which changes the playing field.
South Africa stepping up as a tourist destination of choice for millennials

Online marketing leads the way when reaching out to millennials and the things they look for in a destination include sustainability, variety, and experiences that are worth sharing with friends over the internet. This is how the local travel industry is stepping up.

South Africa stepping up as a tourist destination of choice for millennials

Last year, almost four million millennial tourists made their way to South Africa in search of the unique adventures on offer here.

By now it’s a well-known fact that this generation of travellers place higher value on memorable experiences than they do on high-end amenities and luxury lodgings. They’d far rather be roughing it in a rustic tent overnight and tracking rhino by day, than sunning themselves around a 5-star swimming pool.

South Africa offers an abundance of these no-frills, experiential vacations for travellers of every age, making it a top choice for millennials from all over the world.

This generation is becoming an increasingly important source of tourism for the country, especially since they travel year-round and are big spenders during their down-time. Variety, novelty, convenience and connect-ability are the top priorities for millennials. One-size-fits-all simply doesn’t cut it with them.

Thus, local tourism stakeholders are placing a high emphasis on these aspects to help attract this type of client. Some of the tactics used to attract them are priority boarding, more diverse accommodation offerings and the free Wi-Fi.

Sustainable practices are also a huge drawcard for millennials.

Off the beaten track attractions

Millennials love to document every detail of their travels online, be it via blog, vlog, images or social media posts.

Millennials are also more inclined to hop on flights from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and spend some time in a cave at Kagga Kamma Game Park in search of unique photo-ops than jet-off to more mainstream tourist offerings.

That’s why out-of-the way places like Matjiesfontein have achieved great success with marketing their destination by highlighting quirky Instagram-able spots around town.

Franschhoek is another top travel destination for this generation in South Africa. They travel here for sustainable, personalised local experiences and a wide range of activities.

Cape Town is a hub for onward travel or day trips to the surrounding small towns, high-adrenalin activities and nature reserves in the area.

Many safari destinations are offering more than the usual game drives and walks nowadays too. These new activities include getting involved in local community projects and rolling up their sleeves to assist with conservation initiatives.

Tailored experiences

However, these travel preferences are largely dictated by the life-stage of Millennials, adding even more opportunities for those in the tourism industry to reach out to them. Many millennials are travelling in groups of friends looking for adventure, while others limit their excursions to romantic couple’s attractions.

By now, lots of them have young families, which means an emphasis on exceptional diversions for little ones.

Whatever kind of millennial you’re catering for, marketers should remember that they place a high emphasis on capturing the moment so that friends and family can share their experiences online.

Nothing draws a millennial to a destination faster than marketing images that emphasise the natural elements, distinctive landscapes and interesting quirks of a location.

Millennial market insights

A recent research report, focussed on Global trends of millennial travellers highlights a few key pointers that work in South Africa’s favour.

These are:
  • Millennials are profoundly influenced by technology which means that internet marketing is the best way to reach them. This type of outreach is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to punt nature-based attractions and accommodation.
  • Millennials love international travel and the exchange rate is in their favour when it comes to South Africa. South African safaris are among the cheapest in Africa and our local cuisine, rustic accommodation and thriving arts and crafts culture appeals to millennials on several levels.
  • South Africa has always offered a diverse range of authentic experiential travel offerings which appeal to millennials. Activity-based travel, voluntourism, cultural trips and high-adrenalin adventures are major drawcards this group.
  • South African hospitality is world-renowned and offers the exact level of welcoming immersion in local culture that millennials seek.
South Africa has all the raw ingredients to become the top travel destination for millennials thanks to its diverse landscapes, welcoming culture, incredible scenic attractions and quirky small towns overflowing with charm.

Since millennials are accustomed to the speed and convenience that the internet offers, it’s important to offer online bookings and payment facilities for all accommodation and activities. Likewise, it’s important to answer correspondence promptly.

Social media is one of the best ways to reach out to millennials, but outdated or boring websites and social media pages do not impress them. The best websites and social media pages are a bustling hive of activity and interesting information.

One of the most important factors for South African tourism operators to remember is to include local millennials in their considerations. It makes sense to encourage them to spend their money at home instead of venturing abroad.

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