A recent survey conducted by the Flight Centre Travel Group showed that South Africans are ready to travel again. 86% of survey respondents said they would consider travelling to a perceived safe destination in 2020/2021. International travel versus local travel was neck and neck with 43% of South Africans saying that they would be comfortable travelling internationally.
Only 13% of participants were unsure if they would travel in 2020 or 2021, while 1% said they would consider the circumstances first before setting off.
Travellers are looking forward to setting off, with 35% of respondents indicating they would like to travel as soon as possible after restrictions are lifted, 25% reporting they would travel within 1 to 3 months, 21% within 4 to 6 months and 15% within 7 to 12 months.
South African travellers, well accustomed to long haul flights, do not appear averse to travelling internationally either. The survey data showed that 43% would be comfortable travelling internationally with 44% voting for travelling within South Africa. In addition, 6% said they would like to travel to the Indian Ocean islands, traditionally a bestseller in the South African market.
“Although 43% of survey respondents say they would like to travel internationally, it is likely restrictions, regulations and an economic downturn will affect outbound travel. Over the next two years we’re expecting a focus on domestic travel – South Africa for South Africans,” said Andrew Stark, Managing Director Flight Centre Travel Group Middle East Africa. “We have a beautiful country to explore. We can re-ignite that love by spending our hard-earned rands locally.”
The data bears this out, with 73% of respondents reporting that they would be comfortable travelling on a flight locally as well as travelling by car (in their vehicle or hired).
Ideal local travel destinations or experiences saw beach holidays topping the list, followed by bush breaks, the Garden Route, then mountain adventures and exploring a city. Somewhat surprisingly, only 10% opted for a camping holiday.
The overwhelming majority of respondents chose a getaway with family and budget-friendly holidays as their ideal local holiday, with a luxury or getaway with friends coming in neck and neck.
While the majority of travellers would feel comfortable staying in self-catering accommodation, hotel and lodge stays were not far behind.
In terms of intra-provincial travel, 59% of travellers said they would travel within their own province, 20% said no, with another 20% saying they would, if the deal was good enough. Interestingly, 43% of the respondents lived in Gauteng, followed by 23% in Cape Town and 18% in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Western Cape is the number one province South Africans want to visit when interprovincial travel is permitted, with KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape following behind.
Travellers are in need of a more extended local getaway, with 28% of respondents saying they’d want to take a holiday of between 4 to 5 days. 24% said seven nights was preferred, followed by 20% saying 2 to 3 nights. Only 13% reported a weekend away or a stay of longer than seven nights.
Flight Centre conducted the survey through their newsletter and Facebook page, with 7,546 respondents taking part. By completing the survey, respondents could win one of two local travel vouchers to the value of R2,500.
In line with the survey findings, the Flight Centre Travel Group was already pivoting their business to focus strongly on domestic travel for the next two years.
From the beginning of the lockdown period, 27 March 2020, to 16 April, Flight Centre South Africa’s website data shows that overall pages per session have increased by 12.7% with searches for all-inclusive packages, Mauritius, beach, budget deals, Phuket, and family holidays proving popular.
“Africa is uniquely positioned to make a slow, but sure, recovery,” said Sue Garrett, General Manager of Product and Marketing at the Flight Centre Travel Group. “The vast expanse and diversity of the African continent is off the beaten track and away from large crowds. We expect to see this type of intrepid, exploration, adventure and bush break safari-style travel increase in popularity. The shorter flight times will also be appealing,” says Garrett.