Tourism Month has been a learning curb for many of us thus far, and there are positive changes being made within the sector.
The pandemic has taught us more than just to appreciate the people in our lives, it has taught us to value the amazing country we live in.
Shaun Lamont, managing director of First Group Hotels and Resorts, reminds us to keep in mind what the theme, ‘Rethinking tourism’ actually means.
“Key to unlocking sector growth and relevance is rethinking what we do and how we do it, and we need to start by asking, what do our guests want?” Lamont said.
Local is lekker
This saying never gets old as it is relevant even today. Inflation and the rising cost of living have a great influence on how and where we travel, with 43% saying that it would impact their choice of destination in a recent survey by consultancy group, Travel Lifestyle Network.
Therefore, due to budget, some holidaymakers are planning their holiday locally, which is not bad, as there is so much to explore, regardless of the province. At this year’s World Tourism Day held in the Western Cape, we were reminded of the beauty South Africa holds.
‘’There really is something special about travelling in South Africa … the special ingredient that sets us apart is our wonderful, warm hospitality,’’ said Western Cape's Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger.
Surveys show that self-catering now boasts almost double that of hotels. Which is a clear indication that people prefer self-catering accommodation, over hotels. First Group has seen that with self-catering accommodation it almost-always sells out first.
Everybody loves a road trip every now and then, hence, self-drive holidays have seen an upswing in popularity for various reasons, including the cost of flight tickets. Lamont states that they have seen an increase of cars in their parking lots, and they are fuller than ever before, even requests for airport shuttles have decreased.
In addition self-drive does make the journey a little more special; you can do things in your own time, such as stopping here and there just to explore a little ‘padstal’ on the roadside or simply admiring the view. Lamont said: ‘’It allows families to make lasting, magical memories together, without having to worry about things like arrival and departure times.’’
As much as life has returned to normal, guests are still conscious of germs, and clean, sanitised environments remain a key factor. Lamont adds that, in order to be successful in this regard, businesses have to take care of more than just disinfection to reduce risk, but implement ways to help with guests and employees’ health.
‘’While guest behaviour and travel trends are constantly evolving, if the hospitality sector is to continue to remain relevant, there’s no doubt that we need to rethink tourism,’’ said Lamont.
“As South African holidaymakers navigate the new travel norms, it’s up to us to provide them with the peace of mind they want as they look to make lasting, magical memories,’’ he said.
Read the latest issue of IOL Travel digital magazine here.