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South Africans are discovering a world of travel options

International travel might be off the cards for many South Africans right now thanks to bans, restrictions, and all manner of lists, but that's proving to be a great thing for South Africans wanting to explore whether South Africa truly is a world in one country.
South Africans are discovering a world of travel options

Research into internet behaviour reveals that since domestic travel restrictions have eased, local travellers are going online in droves to find out where they can indulge their wanderlust closer to home.

Searches for top destinations like, ‘game lodges’, ‘guest houses’, and campsites are at fever pitch, followed closely by requests for information on local game reserves and coastal destinations.

When local travel enthusiasts aren’t looking up top destinations, they’re enquiring about ‘things to do’ in cities across the country as well flights to major airports near these prime spots.

Savings are a priority for travellers at the moment

Naturally, in these cash-strapped times, it’s a lot cheaper to indulge in domestic travel than it is to head out abroad.

That means, South Africans can travel more frequently, but they’re also searching for cost-savers like ‘near me’ attractions and shorter weekend or midweek stays.

Thanks to the prevalence of low-cost SA airlines across the country, South Africans have access to affordable tickets, whether they’re looking for a flight to Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, or any one of the smaller airports.

What’s more, ticket prices are up to 25% cheaper than before, making now a great time to explore the country.

South Africans are discovering a world of travel options

Top destinations for South African travel searches

Overall, searches for local getaways are up by 22%, with many South Africans opting for popular international tourist destinations, so they can benefit from holidaying without as many crowds.

As a result, all the usual suspects top the charts when it comes to holiday searches. These include destination and flight searches to Durban, Cape Town, East London, George, Nelspruit, Kimberley, Mthatha, Gqeberha, and George.

There’s also an upswing in the searches for small town destinations, most notably, Hoedspruit, Margate, Upington, and Richards Bay.

While it can’t make up for the losses incurred due to a dearth of international currency in recent times, increasing interest in local travel brings hope to the long-suffering tourist industry. It’s a hope that could turn into lasting profits if they learn to tap into the unique needs of this clientele.

South Africans are discovering a world of travel options

What South Africans want from their holidays

While most travel trends have fleeting worldwide appeal, a look into the way South Africans get away from it all reveals some important factors that distinguish this market from more affluent countries.

Some of the top travel trends unique to South Africa include:
  • Increased activity as restrictions lift

    While increased bookings are an expectation when travel restrictions relax, South Africans usually undergo a period of fervent enquiries every time the changes gear to a lower level. Since the beginning of 2020, South Africa has been thrust into periods of increased limitations without much warning. So, this increased booking activity is likely due to a belief that people should travel as soon as possible before things change again. In some cases, flight bookings have increased by up to 75% in periods following a positive national address.

  • The virtual travel trend

    While remote exploration of foreign lands took off dramatically during lockdown, it’s unlikely to slow down in South Africa. Residents of the country are still banned from travelling to numerous destinations across the globe, although there seem to be new countries accepting us almost weekly. Yet, even in normal times, South African travellers struggle to afford overseas trips due to unfavourable exchange rates. Now that those with a fascination for foreign destinations have discovered the joys of things like Airbnb Online Experiences, and Google Street View, they’re unlikely to stop exploring the world using these virtual platforms.

    South Africa might remain on red-lists when it comes to venturing overseas, but the country still welcomes travellers from abroad. That makes South Africa a top choice for remote workers looking for a change of scenery as they go about their tasks.

  • Family getaways

    While solo and couples’ travel figures have declined, family rooms and special offers are attracting huge interest from South African travellers, especially those with teenage children. According to travel specialists, it’s not just the teenagers who are invited along nowadays either. Multigenerational bookings, especially for safaris, are also on the increase.
Worlds of opportunity

There will always be those driven by curiosity to explore further afield, but South Africans are fortunate to live in a country where local travels are far from second prize.

Out of necessity, locals have come to discover an abundance of travel opportunities on their doorsteps, and that can only mean good things for the South African travel industry.

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