It is ironic how life, like a giant roller coaster, plunges us from great heights to great depths and then invariably pulls us back up to great heights again, and so it goes on. I was reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic was a typical example of this for the travel and tourism industries when I recently read an interesting article about what has now been officially dubbed “Luxury travel”. We have literally gone from being unable to travel at all, to those with wealth being bored with just normal travel and seeking something far beyond that. Luxury travel can include things like the sublime first-class treatment one receives on Emirates Air, seven-star hotels in Dubai and specialist resorts in iconic destinations that offer so much more than the usual five-star experience.
I then started thinking about whether most people in South Africa and Southern Africa as a whole, realise that we compete on this level and cater most admirably for this trend. To not know this is understandable as South Africa is not always thought of as a typical luxury travel destination. I wrote fairly recently, in fact, about some areas of tourism for which we certainly have room for improvement, like our airports and security, and I’m pleased to say much effort is being made in this regard, but make no mistake, right here in Southern Africa we stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world when it comes to offering sublimely luxurious travel for those who have big money.
Playground of the rich and famous
Hotels and restaurants in Cape Town, resorts in Mozambique, and bush experiences here in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana all offer accommodations and experiences so unique, with so much attention paid to every detail, that they are rated among the finest in the world and Southern Africa is seen as a playground for the very rich and famous. You can charter a private jet to take you to an exclusive Michelin star-rated restaurant and you can hire an entire seven-star bush lodge for you and a few friends to make that little piece of heaven your own, for as long as you can afford it. Our luxury travellers are seeking out those unique experiences, in addition to the luxury surroundings and services available to them. Be it overnight glamping and stargazing experience in the deserts or participating in conservation activities that are undertaken in many of the lodges, the opportunities in Southern Africa are endless.
Don’t envy – contribute!
For those who may feel that it is not fair that some people spend more money on a honeymoon than most can earn in five years, let’s not forget that Travel and Tourism are massive contributors to our economy and Africa as a whole can certainly use the kind of boost that this “luxury travel” can give to our coffers. We must always be able to cater and compete for it. Who knows when the next roller coaster ride may start its downward plunge again, so let’s all stand together to keep Southern Africa and particularly South Africa firmly ensconced as a preferred destination offering some of the best luxury, and any other kind of, travel experiences in the world!
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER