How South Africans like to spend their holidays

Posted on 11 June 2019

Over the decades, travel and tourism have grown to become one of the world’s largest economic sectors, generating about 10% of the world GDP. Tourists are a prominent source of revenue for many people.

In fact, travelling has become so popular that some places in the world, like Venice or Dubrovnik, have been facing problems of overtourism.

Travelling from one side of the globe to the other is easier than ever, so it’s no wonder that people go on trips more often. According to the World Tourism Organization’s forecasts, international tourist arrivals will reach 1.8 billion by 2030.

And while Europe is still the top tourist destination, Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing region in recent years.

What impact do these trends have on us South Africans? Picodi Analysis Team decided to find out more about locals’ travelling habits and preferences. Here are all the stats they found.

Top destinations

Favourite holiday destinations of South Africans

According to the survey results, the majority of South Africans prefer domestic travel to going abroad. 79% of surveyed South Africans declared that they would rather spend their holidays in their country while 21% opted for international travels.

Among those who prefer to travel abroad, the most popular holiday destinations for South Africans were the United Kingdom, the United States, Thailand, France, and Italy. For those who preferred the South African landscape, the top destinations were Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Once in a blue moon

Holiday preferences of South Africans

When do South African go on their holidays? The shoulder season (the season between the peak season and the low season for holiday) is gaining its fans around the world since it allows tourists to visit popular tourist attractions in still-decent weather at more affordable prices than peak season. It’s also an increasingly popular time to travel among South Africans — 37% of respondents declared that they travel during the shoulder season. 38% chose the high season and the remaining 25% prefer to travel during the budget-friendly low season.

This leads to the question of how much South Africans are willing to pay for their travels and leisure. According to the survey results, an average South African spends R7,181 on average per trip. 6% of respondents said that they don’t try to save on trips at all, while the rest of the respondents have some smart tricks to make their travels more affordable. 56% of surveyed South Africans declared that they buy tickets in advance, for example, and 51% book their stay ahead of time.

It looks like South Africans prefer longer getaways; 50% of respondents claimed their trips last around a week. 34% said that they spend two weeks or more on holidays and 16% spend less than a week.

49% of the surveyed South Africans go on holidays once a year while 32% go twice a year or more. 19% of respondents have the opportunity to go on a trip less than once a year.

And who do South Africans spend their holidays with? The majority of those surveyed travel with their family or partner (61% and 21% respectively). 14% go with friends and only 4% prefer to travel solo.

All by myself

Do South Africans organise their holidays by themselves or with travel agencies?

We already know when and where South Africans travel but how do they organise their trips? The overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) prefer to organise everything by themselves while only 9% rely on travel agencies.

The main reasons for self-organised trips pointed out by South Africans were the ability to match everything according to preferences (55%) and the cheaper price (39%). Those who travel with agencies said they feel safer that way (64%) and it’s more comfortable (21%).

Explore the unknown

Travelling habits of SA people

We asked South Africans whether they prefer to go somewhere new or re-visit their favourite places. The results show that most of them (82%) would rather explore new places and only 18% of respondents chose going back to places they already know.

When it comes to organising a trip, it turns out more men than women are spontaneous travellers. Nevertheless, most people prefer to plan in advance — 70% of men and 80% of women.

Sunbathing on the ravishing Bali beaches, exploring the old alleys of Paris or surfing the waves of the Australian coast – what do we prefer? When asked about their favourite way to spend a holiday, 40% of South African respondents chose lying on a beach as their favourite activity. This was followed by sightseeing (39%) and the least popular, active rest (21%).

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so the old proverb says. However, there are different approaches when travelling, especially when it comes to means of transportation or food. Among the surveyed South Africans, 41% chose rental cars as their favourite mode of transport, followed by local public transport (34%) and taxi cabs (23%). As for food, 44% try local cuisine, 36% look for places that serve familiar dishes and 11% choose to just eat at the hotel.

In theory, taking a holiday is a way to get a break from work and some proper rest. However, sometimes it’s impossible to break free from incoming calls or emails. It turns out that 35% of surveyed South Africans are willing to perform job-related tasks during their holidays.

Around the world

How much money people around the world spend on holidays

We asked travellers from 39 countries how much money they spend on average per holiday. Based on the answers, we prepared a ranking which indicates the biggest spenders.

An average, South African spend R7,181 per person on a holiday, which converted into USD amounts to $505. This places South Africa in the middle of the ranking.

Australians spend the most money on holidays, $1,505 per holiday. They are followed by Hongkongers and Finns. The most frugal travellers come from Indonesia and Pakistan — they spend $207 and $191 respectively.


This report is based on the survey conducted in April and May 2019 among over 20 000 respondents from 39 countries. For the currency conversion, the average exchange for May 2019 was used.

Image: Brand South Africa

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