In the latest campaign from its ongoing Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, South African Tourism (SAT) places emphasis on the importance of rebuilding domestic tourism before regional and international – which will follow suit as South Africa’s travel and tourism industry recovers from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a crucial part of reigniting domestic demand, a study was conducted by SAT into how the pandemic has affected the domestic traveller. It revealed that restrictions on movement due to COVID-19 regulations did shift holidaymakers’ travel patterns from inter-provincial to more intra-provincial, at least in the first quarter of 2021 as compared to 2019.
Most intra-provincial travel in Q1 2021 was observed in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in particular, when South Africa was in Level 3 Lockdown before moving to Level 1 at the end of February 2021.
The study found that it is now younger people than previously who are travelling the most. They are “Generation Z” (born 1997-2021), typically single and childless, and they fall in line with the group SAT calls “Spontaneous Budget Travellers”.
For local tourism businesses to stimulate demand in domestic travel, it is important to understand the mindset and needs of Spontaneous Budget Travellers in particular.
They are fully digital, technologically savvy, trend-conscious, and are still working towards a degree and are aged 18–24. Earning around R5 000 – R7 000 a month and spending an average of R1 252 per trip, the Spontaneous Budget Traveller usually travels three times a year for four to five nights at a time.
Unpaid accommodation with family friends is the most popular option, but they also choose hotels, camping sites, caravans or holiday homes. Travel is geared towards finding safe places with controlled access to wide-open spaces.
These travellers tend to do a lot of research before they book a trip. Travel is usually booked for December, March, April, or September.
SAT observes that since the face of the typical consumer is changing over time – becoming younger and above all wanting to travel on a strict budget, - local trade needs to cater to them with relevant messaging and tailored offers.
Communicating extensive COVID-19 safety protocols is of utmost importance. The trade needs to assure customers they will do everything to make their experience a safe one. Adherence to COVID-19 regulations is also key to ensuring positive word-of-mouth exposure.
Holiday packages offering value for money, (which should be marketed accordingly) will also get good word-of- mouth exposure. Marketing to attract a Spontaneous Budget Traveller should be entertaining, educational, and should also appeal to the technologically adept.