Advertise on Bizcommunity

Subscribe to industry newsletters

South African travellers are still travelling despite economic woes

Despite a tough economic climate, South African consumers are still finding cost-effective ways to travel both locally and internationally.

Last month 30,000 people, a record-breaking number, visited Johannesburg’s Ticketpro Dome for the ninth annual Travel Expo. South African Tourism had 16 local exhibitors showcasing their products. The show is hosted by Flight Centre Travel Group and is the largest consumer travel show in southern Africa.

Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, said that more than R50 million in travel was sold, which was a 40% increase from 2017’s show.

International holidays are still the most popular totalling 70% of travel booked. Holiday packages followed with 53% of bookings, while flights and cruises made up the rest.

"We certainly proved that South Africans are resilient and are still travelling, perhaps more than ever," offered Stark. “We believe the strengthening rand and time of year played a part, and, that many South Africans feel, no matter what happens, they are going to get away on holiday.

“The cost of travel due to exchange rates, onerous visa requirements and the country’s economy of course could all be factors that influence South Africans’ decision to travel. However, the success of this expo proves that South Africans are resilient and, even when times are tough, they make sure they’re investing in themselves and their families through shared travel experiences,” says Stark.

South Africans want the best family travel deals

The Travel Expo has a fast-spreading reputation of being the place to find the best deals, and South Africans show a particular interest in guided tour holidays and cruises that suit a broad family age-range.

“I think the expo’s success is that South Africans truly were getting 500-plus exclusive travel deals and that there was something for everyone,” Stark offered. “These record sales bode well for travel and tourism in and from South Africa.”

This year’s exhibitors were excited about the increased visitor numbers despite economic pressures on consumers. “We had a fantastic Travel Expo this year, and it was interesting to see how many people came in knowing precisely what they wanted to book,” commented Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation South Africa.

No change in school holiday spending

Analytics company Lightstone Explore looked at travel behaviours during the June/July holidays in 2017 and 2018 to determine how financial pressures have changed travel behaviours and found only a marginal difference from one year to the next.

“We looked at a sample of approximately 250,000 telemetered, passenger Tracker vehicles active on South African roads from July 2017 to July 2018 (to correspond with the government school, four-term holiday timetable) and August (to correspond to the private school, three-term timetable) holidays and analysed their behaviours based on where we know their general home area is vs the distances travelled, and the duration of absence during this period,” said Linda Reid, Chief Commercial Officer.

Although there was a noticeable, but relatively small decrease in the number of people going on holiday – between -2% and -3% for the July and August holidays respectively, the majority of the sample group behaved the same in 2018 as they had in 2017 (71% of the July sample group and 70% of the August sample group behaved the same as they did in the school holidays of the previous year).

Despite having to tighten their belts, South African travellers have many options of holiday destinations with cheap domestic flights South Africa, or even to island destinations such as the popular Mango flight to Zanzibar.

The popularity of the Travel Expo shows that while South Africans love to travel, they’re always going to look for the most cost-effective deals and destinations.

Image source:

SA Airlines' press office

SA Airlines
SA Airlines is a leading South African destination for everything from cheap flights in SA to carrier overviews, airport information and live SAA flight status updates.