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South African Travel Trends To Watch In 2022

  • 5 min read

Last year wasn’t a great one for travellers, or the global tourism industry for that matter. Perhaps that’s why so many are pinning their hopes on 2022.

If you’re planning ahead in your business or simply want in on what’s new, here are the top predicted South African travel trends to watch in 2022:

A back-to-travel boom

With vaccinations, testing, and new treatments to help manage the virus – travel is back on the cards worldwide, and traveller confidence is growing.

“This year we’ve seen the emergence of the ‘catch-up consumer’ or ‘revenge traveller’ – those making up for holiday experiences they’ve missed out on during Covid-19,” says Euan McNeil, Managing Director, Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa.

“Having been grounded for so long, holidays are more important to travellers now than ever before. We’re seeing South Africans increasingly excited for life-changing holidays in far-flung destinations where they can try new activities they’ve never done before.”

It is interesting to note that last minute bookings are still popular, with many travellers still booking to travel in the same month. “In November last year, 44% of bookings were made to travel in the same month. Since December, this number has increased to 70% of bookings made for travel in the same month.”

Travel for friends and family

The pandemic prevented many South Africans from connecting with loved ones based overseas.

For many South African travellers, their desire for transformation travel experiences is primed to encompass ‘life moments’ — celebrations and special occasions put on hold during the height of lockdowns and global travel restrictions. 

From studying abroad to employment opportunities, weddings, birthdays and new additions to the family, many need to travel to experience meaningful life moments they might have missed during the height of the pandemic.

The turnaround for those visiting friends and family took priority over general leisure holidays.

A helping hand

Travel still brings with it many complexities, providing plenty of opportunities for trusted travel advisors to become valuable allies to local travellers by offering guidance and support amidst the still-changing Covid-19 regulations.

Pandemic-era travel requires more emphasis on pre-departure planning than ever before. Add to that unexpected changes and cancellations, reduced airline capacity, and cross-border Covid testing and documentation required makes having a one-stop-shop service with a travel agent in 2022 invaluable.

Going green

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has accelerated the transition towards responsible travel within the global tourism sector. The state of our climate will remain a primary concern for travellers who will desire options that will make them feel better about choosing to travel.

In a report compiled by the World Travel and Tourism Council in November 2021, over 80% of global travellers expressed the importance of sustainable travel is vital, with almost 70% expecting the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options in the future.

When it comes to sustainable travel in 2022, it cannot be about returning to the old ways. It has to be about making healthier holiday choices to preserve the environment.

Pricing is key

A boost in travel demand doesn’t mean everyone will immediately splurge on bucket-list destinations. We’ve all felt the pinch since the start of the pandemic, however there are a large number of travellers who have been able to save due to limited travel opportunities.

According to a 2021 Google-Ipsos survey, 85% of travellers say affordable prices are the most crucial factor when selecting their flights, accommodation and activities in 2022. While this data helps us understand the general needs of our customers, it’s essential for travel providers not to go ‘cheap’ in 2022, but rather to set prices that reflect true value for their clients.

To make up for holidays missed, a significant portion of local travellers are then willing to spend more on their upcoming trips than what they would have pre-Covid. Being grounded for so long has also led to a higher budget to play with.

According to Allied Market Research, the global luxury travel market is expected to garner $1,154 billion by 2022. This aligns with a Luxury Goods Worldwide Market study suggesting that social-media inspired Millennials and Gen-Z are estimated to hold 40% of the luxury market by 2025.

Back to the beach

For those wanting a break from reality, the beach is where they want to be. 

As part of Flight Centre’s recent online event, Travel Runway, the ‘beach’ category was the most popular in all markets, including South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Based on the stats we have, roughly 30% of South African customers opted to keep their money on file for a future booking to Mauritius,” says McNeil. “Now that the destination is open, we’ve seen Mauritius remaining its firm favourite status for South Africans.”

Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa also revealed a selection of flight destinations showing the highest recovery in bookings between July to December 2021.

  • Zanzibar
  • Lilongwe
  • Dar Es Salaam
  • Nairobi
  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Manchester
  • London
  • Windhoek
  • Mauritius

The bottom line…

The truth is tourism will not have a quick and complete recovery over the next 12 months. However, the good news is that the appetite for travel is there. Albeit cautious, local travellers who have remained grounded for so long are now ready to get out and explore the world once again.

“South Africans are very resilient travellers, and we have been encouraged by the positive booking numbers for local and regional travel this year, with international travel enquiries and bookings slowly increasing,” McNeil concludes.