Domestic Travel

Whether you’d like to simply sit back and relax on a vacation or would like to check out some tourist hotspots while on a business trip or while looking for apartments for sale in another city before relocating, South Africa has a lot to offer local tourists.

Domestic tourism in South Africa hasn’t exactly gone into overdrive yet in spite of the many options in adventure, thrills, and holiday tours being offered at lower rates for locals. Compared to the influx of international tourists which has seen a 10.4% increase in the first 3 quarters of 2012, domestic travel remains stagnant.

One of the possible causes for the low turnout in domestic holiday travel is the fact that prices for fares and accommodations are geared towards tourists and therefore can be higher than what an average low to middle income family could afford. In the past 20 years, only one budget independent airline company remains operational out of the original 11. The cause: rising cost of fuel and high airport taxes.

This March 2013, new parties are interested to come in and invest in domestic tourism like London-based Fastjet and Skywise. Local travel airlines and hospitality businesses are now trying out a rewards point system which would encourage local travel. The idea of advance booking is also being offered to lower costs and make it more affordable for South Africans to travel domestically.

The government has also approved a National Tourism Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy last 2011 to boost a flagging industry. The plan of President Jacob Zuma is to increase local travel to 54 million by 2020. In the past 5 years local travel has dipped from 36 million trips to 24 million

A two-part objective is to show that travel can be affordable and that there is reason to see the country. In government’s assessment, the high traffic areas for domestic travel are KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. The reasons why South Africans were moving around the country were to shop, go to the beaches, and enjoy the nightlife.

In 2010, the average amount spend on travel by a South African was R 710 and the following year, it only increased by R 70. Most local tourists would travel by public minibus and stay an average 4 days away from home.

Surprisingly, the same state surveys show that over 8 million South Africans can afford to travel and have surplus income but chose not to travel. To spur these locals to consider domestic travel, there are plans to hold exciting events, get celebrities to endorse local travel, offer attractive local tour packages, and increase awareness through online marketing. Already there has been a spike since 2010 among local travelers although many of them come from the middle to upper class.

In fact, in response to government plans and media sales blitzes, many locals have remained noncommittal. One man responded to the media campaign with an honest query, “Why travel to a place where you don’t know anyone?”  Another felt that being a Black South Africa, he and his family may not be welcome in a B&B run by white South Africans. Assuming many others, especially black and colored South Africans feel the same way, local travel will remain an uncultivated industry.