South African travel trends in a post-pandemic world

Posted by David Henning on 1 August 2022

We’ve seen the numbers and the devastating effect that Covid-19 has had on tourism. But things are finally looking up. Leaders in the industry are feeling optimistic after Statistics SA reported that there was an 86.6% increase in income for tourist accommodation for the year ending May 2022.

 South African travel trends in a post-pandemic world

So, just what factors are driving people to travel more now in what is essentially a post-Covid-19 world? Below are the key trends and factors.

There’s no time to waste

After having to stay at home and being unable to travel for two years, people are finding that there is no time like the present to travel.

For many, putting off travel until later hasn’t worked out these last few years, as they have been hit by lockdowns, travel restrictions and other factors like getting sick. This resulted in many cancelled trips and disappointed would-be travellers who have since decided that it’s best to seize the opportunity while they can. Some accommodation spots have noted that visitors don’t book long in advance anymore, but rather plan trips for only a few weeks ahead at a time. Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Cape Town, for example, has admitted to not really having a “low” season this year.

‘Our hotel bookings across all businesses in the hotel have remained strong throughout and beyond our traditional high season. We are also already receiving a host of enquiries from international visitors for the upcoming November and December period,’ says Clinton Thom, General Manager for the hotel.

The MICE sector is back in action

The recent scrapping of South Africa’s remaining lockdown restrictions has opened the door wide for the meetings, incentives, conferences, and events (MICE) sector to get back to business.

‘The MICE sector has been in a chokehold with the 50% capacity restriction, holding back major business-and-economy-boosting events and conferences, and venues such as hotels, which get much of their business from meetings and conferences, along with the accompanying accommodation requirements,’ says Tim Cordon, Senior Area Vice President, Middle East & Africa at Radisson Hotel Group.

Hotel prices have dropped

Data shared by global travel search engine Cheapflights.co.za for the period 17 to 30 June 2022 showed an almost 50% decrease in hotel prices across all-star ratings compared to the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.

Hotels are striving to make accommodation prices attractive for local travellers, and as a result, the prices are looking more affordable right now. Additionally, hotel groups with rewards systems are bolstering their offerings to give more to those who join their rewards and loyalty programmes.

Live anywhere

It’s no secret that more people are moving away from cities and wanting to live in different parts of the world – and work from there. Travel platforms and destination marketing organisations have noticed this and are making an effort to support this.

Earlier this year, Airbnb launched its Live and Work Anywhere initiative to identify some of the most remote worker-friendly destinations in the world, and support governments and Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) in helping to revive tourism and provide economic support to communities after two-plus years of travel restrictions.

Picture: Unsplash

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