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Travel solutions on the horizon for South African tourism

In the aftermath of the 2020 lockdown, South Africa faces two major issues. These are an economic slump and a tourism industry that's suffered enormously under restricted movement. Now, businesses and airlines are suggesting a first step to combat both these issues.
Travel solutions on the horizon for South African tourism

FlySafair leads the charge toward rebuilding tourism

According to low-cost carrier FlySafair, there’s a direct relationship between long weekends and ticket sales, with passengers travelling by 20% more on these occasions.

So, it makes sense that more long weekends can only benefit the embattled tourism industry and struggling SA airlines. This phenomenon could also indirectly affect business travel, with this sector more willing to head out if they’ve got some leisure time in sight after concluding their dealings.

These statistics exclude those travellers reaching their destinations via road, but they’re backed by eThekwini municipality’s research that shows a huge increase in accommodation bookings over long weekends.

With this in mind, the airline has proposed an amendment to the Public Holidays Act. This would see midweek holidays moved to the nearest Friday or Monday, with the actual date reserved as a day of observance.

Although international travellers are bound to start winging their way back to South Africa soon, FlySafair believes that there’s more to be gained from supporting domestic tourism during off-peak periods.

The airline has tabled this proposal with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa for review. If they approve the proposal, FlySafair will start to lobby the Department of Tourism to bring the motion before parliament.

FlySafair’s CEO, Elmar Conradie, is adamant that the intention is never to diminish the importance of historical days. Rather, it's an attempt to provide a novel solution to stimulate economic recovery and growth for the country.

Businesses are backing the idea

Accommodation providers are on board with this suggestion and agree that it could provide the tourism sector with a much-needed boost, and benefit businesses too.

Moving public holidays to the weekend, reduces midweek disruptions and let’s employees enjoy a break without using up their leave days. This, in turn, encourages them to explore more domestic travel options.

The US, Argentina, UK, and Japan have already adopted this approach to significant days with great success, which lends credibility to the idea.

Bringing business travel into the fray

FlySafair has also taken steps to increase airline travel with their FlyMore Club. This offering targets business travellers, people with holiday homes, commuters, people in long-distance relationships, and boarding schoolchildren.

By means of the FlyMore Club, travellers pay a set monthly fee for a certain number of flights during that month as well as special offers and preferential pricing.

The cheapest package is R800 for two one-way flights or one return flight, while the most expensive one offers 10 one-way flights or five return flights per month.

Travellers can take advantage of their club discounts on all domestic FlySafair flights. The perks apply to the main subscriber only, and any unused flights fall away at the end of the month.

This is yet another innovation to boost domestic travel by encouraging business travellers to embrace the potential for 'bleisure', which refers to travellers combining work and play during their trips.

Fuelled by work-from-anywhere trends and pent-up travel demand, bleisure is taking off around the globe as a best-of-both-worlds option.

Increasing numbers of workers are now able to move closer to their clients or simply to explore sought-after destinations.

Like the SA Airlines, hotels are also getting on board with discounted rates to attract Bleisure travellers and boost their bookings.

Corporate travel analysts agree that Bleisure is here to stay and should grow and thrive in years to come.

South Africa already has the infrastructure in place to help this phenomenon take off. We have the accommodation, the attractions, and the road/air network to support Bleisure travels from across the globe.

The tourism industry simply needs to explore more options for marketing this potential both internationally and domestically.

Reinventing travel in 2022

It’s encouraging to see the travel industry pulling together in their efforts to rejuvenate the industry. Now all that remains to be seen is if the powers-that-be will match their efforts and do their part to rejuvenate domestic travel.


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