Cape Town - The travel industry is constantly evolving, and subsequently the way travellers choose their holidays is also changing.
I dissect the main predicted travel trends for 2016 and investigated if they have indeed come true.
As people are more aware of digital burn out, the priority for rejuvenating holidays is on the rise. Travel consultants have seen an increase in clients booking spa treatments and holidays that focus on rejuvenation and relaxation. Luxury lodges, hotels, and spas are increasing their wellness portfolio by opening their own in-house spa or by including it in their clients' itinerary.
VOLUNTEERING ON THE RISE?
While this has always been a way for European and American travellers to combine their philanthropic spirit with their love for travel, there has been some negativity surrounding the volunteering industry. While the volunteer industry is still very active - travellers have become more aware of the 'shadow' side (with the release of the Blood Lions documentary that exposes canned hunting).
Travellers seem more informed about sustainable tourism - and whether or not the organisation they work with is making a positive impact for the people and animals it is aimed at.
With the advent of Snapchat, the way millennials and thirty-somethings are documenting their life has changed. Social media and communication apps have changed the way we travel too. Many companies are adding different social media channels to their website (we started our Instagram account this year!). And there are now apps available for tracking your hike, organising your pre-trip packing and inspiring your itinerary.
Tourists who obtain a visa prior to travelling continues to decline and is at its lowest level ever (according to UNWTO's latest Visa Openness Report). 39 percent of the world population could travel for tourism in 2015 without obtaining a traditional visa before departure as compared to only 23 percent in 2008.
In southern Africa, Zimbabwe has relaxed visa regulations for certain countries. While South Africa has finally dropped the need for tourists to bring their children's unabridged birth certificate to passport checks.
Ultimately travel ease has to be carefully with security - so it's a trend that will always be changing according to the political situation.
More personalised experiences are becoming more popular for tourists. Exploring like a local with a local guide offers a bespoke, curated tour experience that's authentic. First-time visitors are interested in visiting the homestead, going into the township, eating, drinking local, homemade food - and staying away from the mass-tourism places.
* Mareike Pietzsch, Jenman African Safaris