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AAlmost two-thirds of international travellers are ready to travel immediately after the lifting of international travel restrictions or within a year thereafter, a South African Tourism (SA Tourism) survey on international travel has revealed.

The report follows an international tourist behaviour survey, which gives insight into consumer travel preferences post-COVID-19. The recent online sampling survey by SA Tourism’s Strategy Insights and Analytics (SIA) team solicited views of international tourists who have visited South Africa in the past three years.

To understand future patterns and trends, the report provides data on: tourists’ propensity to travel, first travel destination after COVID-19, purpose of travel, choice of accommodation, choice of travel companion, precautions that will be taken when travelling, reasons for wanting to visit South Africa and “millennials” trends.

According to the study, 45% of the international tourists will avoid travel while another 45% are inclined to either travel as they did in the past or travel more. The other 10% are indecisive about their travel prospects.

The tourists who will avoid international travel say they will prefer destinations in their own country until it is safe enough to cross the borders. On the other hand, tourists keen to travel are wary of potential price hikes and affordability of travel. The SA Tourism Brand Tracker Study shows that affordability of ticket pricing is the second biggest barrier to travel to South Africa.

The study reveals that Americas (North, South and Central) and Europe drive the eagerness to travel, while African international travellers are likely to defer travel until it is safe, or a vaccine is found.

62% of respondents in Europe were eager to travel and 29% say they will avoid taking international trips. In the Americas, 51% of the tourists are eager to travel and 28% will avoid travelling.

SA Tourism says millennials, aged between 25-34, and tourists over 65 years old are most likely to express positive travel intentions. The age group between 35 and 54 are the most negative about future travel.

Younger generations are eager to travel and are less risk adverse. SA Tourism says millennial travellers will be at the forefront of tourism recovery because of their relatively higher sense of safety for themselves.

Travelers without children are most likely to travel to international destinations while parents are most likely to prefer domestic destinations. Leisure and holiday are main reasons for travel, followed by travel for business or work purposes.

Close connections and nature are the prime experiences tourists are looking for on their next trip, with spending time with friends and family, nature and scenic outdoors and wildlife safari experiences being the most popular experiences on the first trip.

Not surprisingly, there is a much lower interest in indoor experiences such museums, spa and family entertainment centres. Most of the tourists are looking to engage in outdoor activities, with adequate social distancing protocols and affordable pricing.

South Africa is a preferred destination and the key reasons for wanting to visit South Africa were safari, visiting friends and relatives and scenery. Tourlane, an online travel website, says South Africa is the most popular destination for travellers post-COVID-19.

“We are delighted that South Africa remains a destination of choice among international travellers. This underlines our tireless efforts to keep the country top of mind among travellers. As the tourism sector gradually re-opens, we look forward to welcoming travellers to our shores so that they can explore our beaches, cities, pristine wilderness and mountains,” says SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona. 

SA Tourism says hotels remain a popular accommodation option, with tourists preferring smaller and affordable properties. The preference for hotels is driven by business and holiday tourists.  

Majority of tourists are most interested in travelling with their spouse or partner, taking solo trips or travelling with immediate family. Tourists are most likely to travel with a mask, avoid places where there are lots of tourists, and choose to travel to places with wide open spaces.

Click here for the full report.

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