As the Africa Travel Week, taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) has successfully transpired, the 2022 Trends Report for African Tourism has made its long-awaited debut. The report brings to light 10 major trends expected to shape the industry on the continent in the nearest future.
Martin Hiller, the creative and content director for RX Africa’s travel, tourism, and creative industries portfolio, shared: "We’ve been through more than two years of 'business unusual'. Now that things are starting to 'normalize', and we’re finally able to meet face-to-face again at Africa Travel Week, headlined by WTM Africa and ILTM Africa, it feels only fitting to establish what to expect in our beautiful industry." Here is a summary of the 10 major trends outlined in the report.
1. Greenwashing goes away!
As travelers are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to sustainability, they are already starting to expect real change in the providers’ behavior regarding the environment. Thus, greater transparency and real-life examples of conservation are expected to turn into reality. According to Gillian Saunders, tourism and hospitality consultant: "Sustainability is not an ad hoc problem. Our industry needs to invest in sustainability and actively work to conserve our resources, our heritage, our wildlife, and our ecology.”
2. African cuisine goes global
While African cuisine has been making its way to the tables all around the world, the industry has somewhat failed to create enough “hype” and establish African countries as rightful food tourism destinations. This needs to change with a concentrated effort from the private sector, as well as sufficient interest from the government and tourism boards.
3. Diversity: embracing each other
The pandemic has shown us the huge potential of the so-called 'diversity travelers' — people with needs beyond the traditional couple or family, such as single women traveling alone, single-parent families, people of color, the LGBTQ+ market, and people with disabilities. "Diversity is a part of the tourism eco-system. Tourism products need to create marketing material that is reflective of the diversity in this world," said Saunders.
4. Accessibility will be a game-changer for tourism
Building on the previous point, greater accessibility could allow the destinations to attract new markets and establish themselves as mature players in the industry. As such, UNWTO says that ensuring accessibility for tourists with specific access requirements could give those investing in relevant infrastructure a major competitive advantage.
5. The changing definition of luxury
As travelers are becoming ever more sophisticated and younger generations are taking the lead, seeking purpose, living through meaningful experiences, and finding exclusive escapes (travel bubbles and remote locations away from the crowds) are slowly but steadily becoming the definition of luxury travel in Africa.
6. Travel bubbles: group travel’s new face
Even though the pandemic may be retreating, ‘travel bubbles’ are here to stay with a significant increase in demand for multigenerational trips. Africa, with its diverse offerings and rich natural environment, is ideally positioned to tap into this market.
7. From over-tourism to conscious impact
Despite significant efforts to protect the environment, over-tourism was always a major concern prior to the covid-19 calamity, and neither destinations nor consumers want to return to the status quo. Instead, restorative safaris making a positive impact on conservation and communities will gain popularity.
8. The coming of slow tourism
Longer trips with fewer stops have been all the rage in the industry lately. The phenomenon, called ‘slow tourism’, has already won the hearts of many travelers on par with operators and DMCs. Specifically, African providers have seen increased demand for longer stays with simpler, less multi-country itineraries, and it looks like this trend is here to stay.
9. Flexcation, bleisure, workcation – the new flavors of hybrid employment
Remote work has shown people from all over the world the true potential of internet and zoom meetings. Employees are now ubiquitously demanding a more flexible workplace with a redefined focus on work-life balance. Africa should take note and try to attract as many digital nomads as possible.
10. Tech and humans are indivisible
This does not come as a surprise, but the pandemic has only accelerated the previously apparent trend of further digitalization and tech-dependence the hospitality and tourism industries around the globe have demonstrated over the years. As the consumers are becoming more tech-savvy by the minute, their expectations with regard to the digital sophistication of hotels they stop at will continue to grow, and Africa would not want to disappoint.