Sojern, a travel marketing platform, provided valuable insights into the revival of South Africa's tourism, driven notably by an extraordinary increase in interest from the Saudi Arabian market, within their in-depth analysis of travel trends.
Weekly Flight and Hotel Searches
In September 2023, there was a marked surge in weekly hotel searches, a notable shift from the patterns seen in the last couple of years. At the same time, flight searches soared back to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, indicating a revived interest and increasing demand for South African destinations, particularly as the upcoming high season approaches.
Diverse Traveller Profile
South Africa saw a diverse array of travellers, with 28% gearing up for trips within the next week and 25% meticulously planning journeys spanning over three months, aligning with the sought-after summer period from November to March. This varied timeline illustrates the anticipation and eagerness of international travellers as they secure their flights.
Trip Duration Preferences
Of all travellers, 33% aimed for trips lasting 4 to 7 days, while 17% were considering longer stays of 8 to 14 days. Notably, almost one-third (30%) of international travellers leaned towards trips surpassing 15 days, reflecting a wide spectrum of preferences.
Distance and Traveller Composition
South Africa allured almost half (49%) of its visitors from distances exceeding 4,828 km. A close examination of flight searches revealed a steady traveller breakdown: 68% solo adventurers, 19% couples, and 13% families, each pursuing their distinctive South African journey.
Feeder Markets and Saudi Surge
South Africa welcomed a varied stream of visitors from key markets such as the US, UK, Germany, and the Oceanic region. However, the spotlight shone on the exceptional surge from Saudi Arabia, marking a staggering 187% rise in flight searches for the upcoming November high season compared to the previous year. This surge aligns with forecasts projecting increased arrivals from the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia, from 2023 to 2030.
As of November 14, 2023, the exchange rate had the rand trading at R4.90 against the Saudi Riyal, granting Saudi travellers robust purchasing power within South Africa.
As Saudi Arabia became a leading source of tourism, the industry was prompted to prioritise inclusivity. The need for facilities and services catering to the specific requirements of Muslim travellers became essential. Stewart Smith, Managing Director MEA at Sojern, highlighted in the report the significance of a well-planned digital marketing strategy to promote Halaal-friendly services, accessibility to prayer facilities, and family-oriented environments.