East, west, home’s prici­est

Why South Africans can’t af­ford to hol­i­day at home

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By TASCHICA PIL­LAY

Lo­cal might be lekker, but it’s just too ex­pen­sive — so South Africans are choosing in­stead to pack their bags for Zanz­ibar, Thai­land and Bali, while giv­ing do­mes­tic des­ti­na­tions a miss.

Cost-ef­fec­tive pack­ages and all-in­clu­sive of­fers at of­ten ex­otic and visa-free des­ti­na­tions were all part of the al­lure that tempted lo­cals to choose in­ter­na­tional travel over do­mes­tic des­ti­na­tions, ac­cord­ing to travel agents, who ex­pect the trend to con­tinue into the De­cem­ber hol­i­days.

Last month, Statis­tics SA’s Do­mes­tic Tourism Sur­vey 2016 showed there was a gen­eral de­cline in do­mes­tic tourism.

The num­ber of day trips by lo­cals to do­mes­tic des­ti­na­tions de­creased from 44.3 mil­lion in 2015 to 39.4 mil­lion in 2016. Overnight trips also de­clined, from 45.4 mil­lion in 2015 to 43 mil­lion in 2016.

John Ri­dler of Thomp­sons Hol­i­days said the travel agency had noted a de­crease in de­mand for do­mes­tic travel and an in­crease in travel to Zanz­ibar, Thai­land and Bali.

“South Africans are look­ing for value-for­money deals and coun­tries that don’t re­quire visas. Visas can be costly, es­pe­cially when it’s fam­i­lies trav­el­ling. They tend to also look at re­gional des­ti­na­tions like Namibia, Vic­to­ria Falls and Mozam­bique,” he said.

And these des­ti­na­tions were of­ten cheaper than trav­el­ling lo­cally, he said.

One com­pany was of­fer­ing a seven-night deal to Zanz­ibar for R11 800 a per­son — this pack­age in­cluded flights, air­port taxes, ho­tel trans­fers and ac­com­mo­da­tion at a three-star re­sort, with break­fast and dinner thrown in. Some pack­ages are even cheaper.

The same com­pany was charg­ing R4 825 a per­son for a two-night pack­age to Cape Town, stay­ing at a four-star Wa­ter­front ho­tel. In this case, dinner was not in­cluded.

“One can go to Zanz­ibar for R8 000 for seven nights, in­clud­ing flights, dur­ing off­peak pe­ri­ods. If you go to Cape Town you would be lucky to get a ho­tel within the main mu­nic­i­pal area un­der R1 000 a night, un­less it’s quite old. You have to still add air­fares, car hire and fuel. Sud­denly these over­seas pack­ages don’t look bad at all,” said Ri­dler.

Jane David­son, direc­tor of De­vel­op­ment Pro­mo­tions, which pro­motes and mar­kets in­ter­na­tional travel prod­ucts, said: “We have seen a growth of 25% to 30% in the last year in out­bound travel. There is a de­mand for cruis­ing in the Mediter­ranean, even dur­ing Europe’s win­ter months.”

Mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern African Travel Agents con­firmed that there was healthy ap­petite for in­ter­na­tional travel, said CEO Otto de Vries.

Economist Dawie Roodt said he had no­ticed a trend of South Africans opt­ing to take all-in­clu­sive pack­ages. They were also de­cid­ing to do things they had not done before, such as travel over­seas.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Sun­set in Kuta Beach, Bali, one of the value-for-money des­ti­na­tions South Africans love to visit.

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