Cape Times

More thought going into travel destinatio­ns

- Allison Foat Foat is a publicist, explorer, travel writer, photograph­er and blogger

The more congested it is, the less appealing it becomes

HOLIDAY hot lists have landed and unpredicta­ble exchange rates and economic challenges notwithsta­nding, global leisure travel is looking bullish and set to generate close to $1.40 billion (R1 trillion) in 2018.

As reputable surveys flood the internet space, numerous consumer buying similariti­es have been identified with seamless mobile optimisati­on, influencer-based decision-making, cruising, personalis­ation, skip-generation­al travel, chatbots, women travelling solo and “bleisure” (business combined with leisure) being just a few of the front runner trends.

However, as global warming, habitat loss and the planet’s plastic pollution crisis move centre stage through earth advocates like Lewis Pugh, travellers are planning their getaways more consciousl­y and the overarchin­g theme of Responsibl­e Tourism is on the rise. Environmen­tal degradatio­n is a direct threat to the livelihood of many and the conservati­on cry to preserve fauna and flora and to respect people has spiked an interest in “voluntouri­sm” charity projects and “last chance tourism” bookings to places like the Arctic and the Maldives and regions that may not be recognisab­le or accessible in the not-too-distant future. Ethical travellers are shunning animal exploitati­on for entertainm­ent and adopting a “leave no trace” policy through concerted efforts to lower their carbon footprints.

Travel agencies, practition­ers, hospitalit­y brands, tour operators and destinatio­n marketers across the world, now under more scrutiny than ever before, are streamlini­ng their offerings to meet the shift towards sustainabl­e travel.

“These types of travellers are 38 to 57% more likely to book travel with brands based on their sustainabl­e practices,” says Danica Helfrich of Big Ambitions SA. Travellers (70%) begin by doing their research and reservatio­ns on mobile devices on the move and are also engaging with progressiv­e travel practition­ers to further fine-tune their journeys and curate bespoke experience­s that take them off the typical tourist beat.

“Overtouris­m” is causing stress among the citizenry of cities like Venice, which recently banned behemoth ocean liners from entering waterways close to its historical centre, and Barcelona, bombarded by 32 million tourists last year alone, has become blatantly tourist-phobic.

It seems the more popular a place and the more congested it is, the less appealing it becomes. Slow, calm travel, like barging lethargica­lly through the French countrysid­e or drifting down the canals of Amsterdam are frequently optioned above frenetic tour itinerarie­s. Serious travellers these days, averse to mass tourism, prefer to immerse themselves in the “5 C’s” – culture, cuisine, community, content and customisat­ion – according to the experts.

Hotels, hostels and B&B’s are stepping up to meet green traveller expectatio­ns as well. Every hotel enterprise in Seychelles integrates sustainabi­lity practices in their business operations, and luxury brands like Anantara, represente­d in 13 countries, has initiated several upliftment and eco projects such as mangrove regenerati­on and street elephant rescues in Thailand.

As for top destinatio­ns on the radar this year? Sights are set on Malta, Montenegro, Argentina, Nepal, Sweden and New Zealand, among others, with Turkey bouncing back after a challengin­g few years. In Africa and alongside, Kenya, Botswana, Zanzibar, Mauritius and Reunion are prime.

It is anticipate­d that South Africa will draw close to 15 million tourists to its shores and to the Mother City, Cape Town, one of the most desirable and biodiverse cities in the world.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on your surroundin­gs. You have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make,” said Dr Jane Goodall.

Let’s not love our destinatio­ns to death.

 ??  ?? ANIMALS: The writer Allison Foat walking with elephants at the Elephant Nature Park sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand – an ethical alternativ­e to riding these gentle creatures.
ANIMALS: The writer Allison Foat walking with elephants at the Elephant Nature Park sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand – an ethical alternativ­e to riding these gentle creatures.

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