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Durban - Cape Town remains a firm favourite among South Africans travelling domestically, and Mauritius took the top international spot last year and during the early holiday season this year, followed closely by Thailand. Durban and surrounds occupy second place domestically in travel franchise Harvey World Travel’s compilation of destination preferences, based on a sample of 100 000 bookings between January last year and January this year.
South Africans continued to travel in large numbers, said Harvey managing director Rosemary Moss.
“While continued economic and exchange rate pressure does impact volume, indications are that travellers compensate financial pressure against value destinations and shorter travel periods,” she said.
The average time spent travelling last year was three to 10 days.
“Value destinations will continue to drive consumption during 2013, and holiday duration will continue along the time-spent trend of last year,” said Moss.
The top destinations in South Africa were Cape Town, favoured by 30 percent of travellers, followed by Durban and surrounds (22 percent), the Garden Route (17 percent), the Cape Winelands (11 percent), game lodges (10 percent) and Joburg (eight percent).
Regionally, Harvey World Travel said that Victoria Falls, Zambia and Namibia ranked ahead of other destinations in southern Africa.
By province, the Western Cape was the most popular destination, followed by KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
“Durban is a destination being rediscovered,” said Moss. “The KZN coast represents fantastic value and Durban central has made a positive turnaround. The climate and affordability of the area are attractive, and the North Coast leading up to Ballito is growing steadily in popularity. Its proximity to Gauteng also makes it ideal for driving holidays.”
Moss said she expected Durban and Cape Town to be on a par in terms of popularity by 2015.
Internationally, Mauritius leads the way with 24 percent of South Africa’s travellers, followed by Thailand (23 percent), Europe, the US and the Maldives.
“Italy (seven percent) topped the charts in terms of European destinations, followed by Greece (five percent), Ireland (three percent) and France (three percent),” said Moss.
In the US, family holidays seemed to trump all else, with Orlando (Disneyworld) well ahead of New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, which were second, third and fourth, respectively. “Miami, as a hub for Caribbean cruising, settles in at fifth most-popular US destination,” said Moss.
She added that South Africans would continue to be under financial pressure this year, with the exchange rate influencing decision-making significantly. “Our weakened currency will impact on disposable holiday spend as well as travel inflation across the board. Value will continue to be the main driver of any spends, with destinations like Zanzibar expected to increase in popularity this year in tandem with all-inclusive, resort-type packages.”
Although the numbers quoted are based on Harvey World Travel’s managed travel, Moss said that they were a good indicator for the entire industry. “Our footprint across all major centres in South Africa, as well as our large customer base, has enabled us to extract large samples of travelling habits and… forecast future behaviours.” - The Mercury