Changes in client behaviour and increased environmental consciousness are factors causing subtle changes in Africa’s leading safari destinations.
Wilderness Safaris’ US Sales Manager, Simon Stobbs, says demand for both southern and East Africa is growing, not only because of an incredible range of experiential travel options, but also as a result of global macro-economic factors.
“Due to the favourable exchange rate, business to rand-based products has increased, with both Namibia and South Africa growing in popularity. This is also due to the variety of travel options available, from unique desert adventures in Namibia’s northwest to hot-air ballooning at Sossusvlei, and the range of safari adventures in South Africa, including walking safaris and rhino tracking.”
He adds that a trend of travellers exploring the wild, ‘out’ of the confines of a safari vehicle, such as hot-air ballooning, walking and photographic safaris, sleep-outs and general flexibility to choose their own tempo to the day, is in evidence.
“Safari activities other than game drives are asked for more often than before,” comments Henk Graaff, MD of SW Africa Destination Management, also pointing to the appeal of bikes, horses and walks and sleep-outs.
Rob Dixon, Senior Marketing & Digital Manager at Sanctuary Retreats, has also noticed a rise in the number of guests who’d rather not be in a Jeep all day, preferring to relax around a pool, spa, bar or restaurant, and watch animals come to them. “We are fortunate in that we have properties in the best locations in South Luangwa in Zambia, Okavango Delta in Botswana and Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, for example, where this happens.”
Demand for exclusive use of lodges and camps is another trend stakeholders such as Dixon and Graaff have noticed. Booking an entire facility comes with the advantages of special rates, tailor-made activities and additional experiences. This demand is perhaps tied in with the increasing amount of extended families taking safaris together. Multi-generational family travel is still trending, says Stobbs, as entire families seek to ‘disconnect and reconnect’.
Luxury remains a significant aspect of customers’ requirements, and Dixon refers to the “rise of the über luxury suite” with increased space and its own dedicated staff. The introduction of such a facility at Sanctuary Chief’s Camp in Botswana has been so successful, availability is an issue.
All round, ‘conscious’ travel continues to be prominent, with responsible travellers seeking safaris that give back to both conservation and communities. “We have just started to roll out our new ‘Living the 4Cs’ campaign to entrench our sustainability ethos of commerce, community, culture and conservation, and showcase these great projects to our guests,” says Stobbs.
Source: Michelle Colman. Image: Pixabay