It’s that time of the year again – when travellers the world over begin to look forward to hitting reset (and unplug) on that December break they’ve been waiting the whole, long, slow year for. The savvy travellers are the ones that are also looking forward to 2023, snapping up early bird savings and planning their holidays for the new year.
With incredible pent-up demand for travel, rising costs and in many cases still a lack of full pre-pandemic availability, booking early is the way to go. But how to decide?
The World Travel Awards 2022, the most prestigious global honours programme in the travel and tourism industry, returned for its 29th year, recognising excellence in the tourism industry. Regional travel and tour operators scooped up an array of awards in the Africa and Indian Ocean Islands categories.
If you need help deciding where to go first, here are just 5 award winning travel experiences to consider for 2023.
A fresh take on safaris
Why not take in the majesty of the bush from a new perspective, such as on a river cruise onboard a comfortable houseboat? You’ll drift along one of Africa’s best-known rivers, while admiring the wildlife on the riverbanks as the animals stop to savour a drink – right in front of you.
According to Kate Powell, General Manager Marketing, Sales and Reservations for the Zambezi Queen Collection, Africa’s leading river cruise company:
“The Zambezi Queen Collection offers two unique water safari experiences to travellers looking for a fresh take on an African safari. Both gliding along the Chobe River, our Zambezi Queen is a larger floating hotel, while our Chobe Princess houseboats are smaller, offering a more intimate and private experience.
Before the pandemic hit, many people may not have considered bucket-list adventures just a hop, skip and jump across the border. It wasn’t until their freedom to travel was snatched away that they realised that there’s no better time to travel than ‘right now!’ As such, experts predicted that travellers would start planning bigger, more luxurious immersive trips – to explore the magnificent beauty on our doorstep.
Giltedge, South Africa’s Leading Luxury Tour Operator and South Africa’s Leading Destination Management Company, recommends bucket-list African holidays, such as exploring Namibia’s Skeleton Coast by private flying safari and the Okavango Delta. Other must-sees are the classic Southern Africa highlights and combos such as Victoria Falls and the Chobe River, a Winelands and Sabi Sands safari, Kruger and Botswana, a bush and beach break in Mozambique and trendy Zambia – fast becoming a favourite, ‘undiscovered’ safari destination (think incredible walking safaris in the South Luangwa National Park and North Luangwa National Park).
All-inclusive holidays and cruises
With the ROE doing South Africans no favours, inflation and oil prices, savvy travellers are doing the maths and realising that all-inclusive holidays can offer more value than going DIY or self catering.
“All-inclusive holiday packages, whether on land or cruising, provide holidaymakers with great value for money and remove the stress associated with concerns about how much a getaway is going to end up costing them in the long run,” says Sue Garrett, General Manager Supply, Pricing and Marketing at the Flight Centre Travel Group, recently voted Africa’s leading travel agency and South Africa’s leading travel agency in the World Travel Awards 2022.
“Of course, the added benefit to choosing an all-inclusive package is that it also saves time. There’s no need to spend hours comparing accommodation providers or planning meals. The package provider has done all of the research on your behalf,”adds Garrett.
Over the seas (or continent)
Those who want to travel overseas will find that there are plenty of destinations to add to their wish lists.
According to Garrett, “Just a few international destinations on our radar are Mauritius, Dubai, Bali, Seychelles and Istanbul, all of which are family-friendly.”
Parenting young kids and not keen to attempt a long-haul flight just yet? Then a beach holiday in Mozambique could be on the cards.
“Most flights from South Africa to Mozambique are less than two and a half hours long, depending on which airport you’re flying from. Once there, the kids and adults alike will enjoy the blissful beaches, warm weather, water sports and marine life. Be sure to look out for accommodation providers offering child-friendly facilities or kids’ clubs for the chance to put your feet up while the children entertain themselves!” says Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Director of Dana Tours in Maputo, who scooped up the award for Mozambique’s leading tour operator for 2022.
Other notable destination suggestions include:
Indian Ocean Islands Leading Destination – Maldives
Africa’s Leading City Destination – Cape Town
Africa’s Leading Destination – Kenya
Indian Ocean’s Leading Wedding Destination – Mauritius
Indian Ocean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination – Seychelles
Africa’s Leading Festival and Event Destination – Durban
Whatever award winning holiday you’ve got on the cards, ensure you book early to avoid disappointment. With travel demand at an all time high, the trend of last minute bookings is fast disappearing.