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SA should be number 1 when it comes to Adventure Tourism

SA should be number 1 when it comes to Adventure Tourism!

Following hot on the heels of solo travel (a hugely growing travel trend that I recently wrote about) comes Adventure Tourism. Adventure Tourism, a global phenomenon, is according to a recent Skift article I happened upon, amongst the fastest-growing and most lucrative travel trends at the moment. Essentially it is all about “experiences” and as the article says, “Travellers are prioritising experiences over traditional sightseeing. Nearly all travellers (90%) plan to spend the same or more on activities in 2024, and experiences are now the leading factor when choosing a destination (reported by 98% of travellers). There is a new breed of traveller according to GetYourGuide – the Explorer. The Explorer spends more on experiences, takes longer trips, and travels more frequently. These high-value vacationers are fuelling the experience economy”.

South Africa didn’t make it into this particular article (although it was an introduction to a larger report). The piece goes on to say, “The hottest travel destinations are no longer just about iconic landmarks. Cities like Fajardo, Puerto Rico (up 419% in bookings by American travellers) and Hoi An, Vietnam (up 284% globally) are experiencing a boom, likely due to their unique cultural offerings and adventure opportunities”. Well, when it comes to ‘”cultural offerings and adventure opportunities”, who can offer more than South Africa?

South Africa has it all

There is no doubt that South Africa can hold its own as a great Adventure Travel destination and we are on a drive to be more experiential than any other country. We have everything to offer the Adventure Traveller from our superb safaris, not only in a 4×4 on the ground but as seen with a bird’s-eye view from a hot air balloon!  Add to that incredible biking and hiking adventure tours like the “Otter Trail” and the “Fish River Trail” – to deep sea diving in some of the world’s highest-rated spots like Sodwana Bay and diving with the seals in the fabulous Western Cape. From one of the world’s highest bungee jumps to a new craze known as Acrobranch and of course our famous zip-lining canopy tours that take zip-liners deep into the Tsitsikamma forest (and so much more) – we have it all!

All about perception

I believe that internationally people do see Africa as one of the preferred Adventure Tourism destinations but oddly, right here in South Africa, I’m not sure that we all see it ourselves. I suppose everyone’s perception of adventure is different and one example is that we as South Africans don’t see a Safari (or game drive as we like to call it) as an adventure but foreign people most certainly do! What could be more thrilling than turning a corner in the bush to be confronted head-on by one of our “Big 5”? We should be wary of this if we are all to be good Ambassadors for Adventure Tourism. From a marketing perspective, we have some great international events at which we showcase Africa and South Africa in particular as a destination that provides every experience the “Explorer” could need. “We Are Africa”, an event dedicated to branding Africa as a luxury travel destination, has recently concluded in Cape Town – and was highly successful – and the “Africa Travel Indaba ” attracted a record number of buyers this year, from all over the world to view our amazing Adventure Tourism offerings. I think it’s events like this that will help to be a draw card for those who would rather thrill than chill, and put any misconception about South Africa not being a major player in the Adventure Tourism market to bed. However, our DMCs, our hospitality industry and yes our people, in all their discussions with international friends and family should also be playing a role in firmly placing South Africa where it rightfully should be – the Number 1 destination for Adventure Travel in the world!

LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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