Locals favour a sho't left to exotic locales

Domestic travel takes a knock amid spike in international travel

08 October 2017 - 00:00 By TASCHICA PILLAY
Sunset in Kuta Beach, Bali, one of the value-for-money destinations South Africans love to visit.
Sunset in Kuta Beach, Bali, one of the value-for-money destinations South Africans love to visit.
Image: Getty Images

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.


• R8,000 is the cost of a trip to Zanzibar for seven nights
including flights off-peak

• 43 million is the the number of overnight domestic trips in SA
in 2016 compared to 45.4 million the previous year

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-for-money 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 off-peak 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.