From flexible flights options to new off-the-beaten-track destinations, Cheapflights share their annual travel predictions for 2017 that travellers and the travel industry should keep an eye out for.
“Despite the uncertain global economic climate, people are still travelling and looking to explore less obvious places,” explained Andrew Shelton, managing director of Cheapflights.
“In addition to these trends, my belief is that portable travel search is set to be the biggest step change in travel. Increasingly, travellers can expect text alerts for airfare sales, to get a price from their favourite voice-based internet device, or find a flight through Facebook Messenger. We’ve launched Facebook chat, emoji, and drag and drop search functions this year, and now 60% of demand comes to us from portable devices. It really is a case of travel planning on the go,” he continued.
The top trends and destinations identified by Cheapflights include:
1. Pack light to take flight
Travellers have voted with their wallets, fuelling the growth of low-cost carriers and their “no-frills approach” and signaling the beginning of the end for all-inclusive airlines. They are becoming increasingly savvy about how to save money and how to choose the “perks” that matter enough to fork out added cash for.
Base airfares, already at a five-year low in 2016, will continue to drop as more airlines, like Delta airlines in the US, offer budget flight options on more and more routes. Locally, FlySafair travellers are offered well-priced flights but are charged for extras such as checking in bags and selecting their preferred seat pre-flight.
While such travel is still not for everyone, nostalgia for the “good old days” when airfares were all-inclusive will largely fade away, as people focus on getting where they want to go for less. Travellers looking to save on flight bookings in 2017 aim to travel with only hand luggage or is open to being allocated a seat on arrival instead of ahead of time, as some low-cost airlines charge to pre-book seats.
2. International travel on the rise
With both domestic and international airlines offering budget options even for overseas flights, international travel will be more accessible than ever.
Airlines such as Norwegian Air have introduced a narrow-body plane which the experts say results in greater fuel efficiency. Lower fuel costs help to keep airline costs low and, paired with concepts such as BYO entertainment, keep airfares in check.
With the help of major currency fluctuations, there is increased purchasing power in many popular markets for South Africans. Of course, there are some potential headwinds for South African travellers, such as the continuing effect of Brexit and uncertain political climates in major markets such as the US.
“Some will find the rise in nationalism in the political world as a reason to stay home. However, others will find travel as the antidote to the politics of the day, realising that there may be no better opportunity than the present to get out there and explore the world. Having said this, local destinations will continue to be attractive to South Africans, as an affordable option,” continued Shelton.
Top tip for South Africans for international travel – check out the non-direct routes to destinations. A few layovers not only allow a chance to explore more destinations on the bucket list but often result in cheaper fares.
3. Increased airport innovation and investment
Airport innovation and investment will continue globally, driven by increased complications at airports. Last year the US saw record-setting security and immigration lines at airports, and this is likely to increase once Donald Trump is inaugurated as president and if he implements further visa restrictions. Globally, much of the short-term improvements is funded by the airlines themselves, with United rolling out automated security screening lanes at hub airports to keep lines moving quicker and British Airways investing millions in its top US airports to refurbish check-in areas and lounges for a better passenger experience.
Other improvements to watch for include the rise in biometric-powered fast-tracked security screenings and personalised services, like food delivery to departure gates or print-your-own luggage tags.
South Africa also saw several air traffic navigation and baggage delivery system issues and increased flight delays at international airports around the country. This will be addressed at Cape Town International and OR Tambo International, both which will be expanding passenger terminals and upgrading facilities.
Locals can also look forward to cheaper local travel after the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) announced that they will be reducing passenger service charges, landing fees, and aircraft parking from April this year.
4. Portable travel search
Mobile technology has changed the face of travel planning and search. The evolution of online travel has extended well beyond the desktop and is now moving beyond the travel website. At the most basic, it’s the simple step of pulling out a phone for an impromptu vacation planning session over dinner. But increasingly, expect text alerts for fare sales and price drops, or to get a price from a voice-based internet device or through Facebook Messenger.
Coming soon: drag an online article about a team, festival or concert right into a search window and get the flight options for attending upcoming events right away.
5. Decline of the generic holiday
Travel as an experience in itself increasingly eclipses just the basics of getting away. Cheapflights has seen an uptake in people looking to travel with purpose and expects this to continue, including:
Living like a local – thanks to the popularity of homestay service like Airbnb, travellers can easily take up residence in a new city or a remote bit of countryside, whether for a few days, weeks, or months. This is giving rise to the search for a more personalised and “authentic” experience. Paired with services like local tour guide matching and at-home dining with locals, it’s far easier to get a full-immersion holiday anywhere in the world. These options add fuel to the growing solo travel market and make it easier to cut the ties to home, which is key to a digital detox experience. For the growing group of travellers motivated to deep dive into a culture, this holiday style is hard to beat.
Working vacation – while total immersion is one increasingly popular option, there is also a trend for combining work and travel in new ways. One is the so-called “bleisure” trip, combining both business and leisure, where extra time is added onto the trip and possibly an added destination or two to the work travel. Done right, this is the ultimate in multitasking – add another outfit or two to a bag and have work pick up the bulk of the travel tab. Another spin is the “have laptop, will travel” habit. For those who can work from anywhere in the world – an increasing phenomenon in today’s tech-driven, remote employee world – there’s no reason not to take work on the road. Look for more and more people exploring the world by working business hours for their day job and then exploring in their off hours.
Ecotourism – the ticking clocks of climate change and overdevelopment are getting louder and louder for many people, driving a sense of urgency for seeing destinations that are endangered and supporting tourism services that sustain vulnerable lands and species.
The other “green” tourism – with marijuana now legal or at least decriminalised in a growing number of places, expect to see a rise in this kind of “green” travel as well. The boom in pot tourism in Colorado, after the sale of recreational marijuana was legalised in 2012, underscores the pent-up demand. With places like Massachusetts, California, and Maine voting to legalise it later this year, and with Canada eyeing such a law at the national level, we can expect to see travel in this segment light up even more.
6. Hot international destinations on the rise
Cork, Ireland – Cork is a charming spot in Ireland to visit either as an extended layover or as a main destination. The most recent proof of the region’s allure is West Cork being claimed as the 2017 Great Town Award, naming it the best town in Britain and Ireland. Whether visitors prefer sights like churches, castles and old-world architecture, a bustling and scenic waterfront, or popping into pubs and fish and chips shops, Cork has everyone covered. A visit to Cork’s English Market, which dates back to 1788, is a feast for the senses. Acclaimed as one of the finest covered markets in Europe, Queen Elizabeth insisted on a stop here during her historic visit to Ireland in 2011.
Finland – with saunas, snow, the Northern Lights in winter, hiking, beaches, stunning scenery and cultured cities in the summer, Finland should be on everyone’s travel to-do list. This year may be the best year to visit, as it is their 100th birthday celebration, which runs throughout the year. Celebration spots include a giant snow castle, a snow restaurant, snow hotel and even a snow chapel. There’s also a wine festival with five 100th anniversary wines and a grand ball to mark the birthday itself.
Polynesia – if “Frozen” is any measure, even an animated movie can turn a remote location into a popular destination. Just as the “The Lord of the Rings” movies spiked interest in New Zealand, which played the role of Middle Earth, visits to Norway increased by 20% after Disney brought the winter wonderland of Scandinavia to life in “Frozen.”
Now the recently released “Moana” shines the spotlight on the incredibly scenic South Pacific, drawing inspiration from places like Hawaii, Tahiti, and the Cook Islands. While this may not be the most accessible destination for travellers, there is expected to be a swelling tide of visits, first from fans and then from those who have learned more about Polynesia from the media attention.
Canada – all of Canada will be taking part in the country’s rolling 150th anniversary this year. Starting from New Year’s Eve, every event will be bigger and better; and every city and town will be getting in on the action with festivities and celebrations. Montreal will be doubling down on its celebrations, as 2017 also marks the city’s 375th anniversary. There will be 102 events throughout the city and the year, to be kicked off by lighting up the Expo 67 Biosphere. Look for everything from pop-up art galleries to seasonal festivals, and from neighbourhood celebrations to a concert featuring three orchestras and hundreds of performers. In a year when Canada is a hot spot for travel, Montreal looks to be a particularly big draw.
Mauritius – South African Airways increased the capacity of flights travelling from South Africa to Mauritius towards the end of last year. Mauritius remains one of the most popular island destinations for locals and internationals, and are refurbishing venues around the island, to meet the needs of the influx of visitors.
Cape Town – with some of the big-name movies filmed in the past in Cape Town, the city can expect to see a further influx of tourists mid-year, with another movie filmed in the Mother City. As the location for the filming of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, featuring renowned actor Matthew McConaughey, it will be no surprise that tourism numbers increase based on where the set of the movie was shot.
Radisson Hotel Group unveils Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle, its second brand in Morocco
Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle (Source: Saadiyah Hendricks)
Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the debut of its second brand and third hotel in Morocco with the signing of Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle in partnership with Al Hoceinia Hospitality. With construction already underway, the hotel is scheduled to open in 2023 and will consist of 133 guestrooms and suites.
Located in the heart of Casablanca’s vibrant and exclusive Gauthier district, one of the prominent corporate, financial and entertainment districts, Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle is just 2.5 km from the glistening La Corniche, the charming Old Medina, and Hassan II Mosque, the second largest mosque in the world. The hotel will offer a unique view over the Arab League Park and will also form part of La Citadelle, a new, premium mixed-use development which will comprise of residences, offices and retail outlets.
Ramsay Rankoussi, Vice President, Development, Africa & Turkey, Radisson Hotel Group, said, “Morocco is a strategic bridge between Europe and the rest of Africa, and a key focus market in our African development strategy. We aim to grow our Moroccan portfolio to over 15 hotels within the next three to five years, and Casablanca is a key city where we are looking to expand our footprint to more than five hotels. Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle is the Moroccan debut of our fastest-growing brand in Africa, and marks our third hotel in the country, joining our other two successful properties, Radisson Blu Hotel, Casablanca City Center and Radisson Blu Hotel, Marrakech Carré Eden. We expect to introduce each of our remaining three brands but also cover all segments, from business hotels to resort properties, as well as serviced apartments. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, Al Hoceinia Hospitality, for their trust as we look at working together to reinforce our presence across Morocco with additional properties.”
Hamza Laghrari, Managing Director of Al Hoceinia Hospitality, Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle managing company said, “It is with great pleasure that we commence this journey and long-term relationship with Radisson Hotel Group and together introduce the upscale Radisson brand to the Moroccan market. The hotel which will be equipped with the latest innovation to accompany the changing expectations of business customers, will provide a new and an ideal venue for business and leisure guests and an enhancement to the city of Casablanca. As part of our group’s diversification strategy, the tourism industry is an important growth sector in which we see opportunities in the near future, and we are pleased to partner with Radisson Hotel Group to introduce this property and eventually many more. We aim to open a total of five hotels by 2025 in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangiers.”
The Scandinavian-inspired, upscale brand, Radisson, will make its Moroccan debut with the new build, 133-room hotel, consisting of contemporary superior rooms and suites. Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle will enable guests to focus on a work/life balance and find harmony in their travel experience, while enjoying the hotel’s modern, state of the art technology, and design. Various cuisine options will be available at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, patio as well as its panoramic rooftop restaurant. Meetings and event venues will include a large conference and function room as well as five meeting rooms. Perfectly equipped for guests to strike a healthy balance, the hotel will offer both a fitness room and a rooftop pool.
Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle (Source: Saadiyah Hendricks)
Radisson Hotel Group’s top priority is the continued health, safety and security of its guests, team members, and business partners. The Group applies its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol created in collaboration with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, and recently unveiled its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across its EMEA portfolio.
Radisson Hotel Group renews partnership with SGS and continues global application of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol
Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the extension of its partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity, and the continued global roll out of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol to further strengthen Radisson Hotel Group’s existing rigorous sanitation, cleanliness and disinfection program across its portfolio around the world.
In 2020, Radisson Hotel Group worked closely with SGS to conduct a thorough review of all existing health and safety processes and worked with a team of experts to develop and validate the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a comprehensive series of 20-Step and 10-step protocols for hotels and for Meetings & Events. These enhanced protocols which include comprehensive health and safety procedures such as increased cleaning and disinfection especially in high touch point areas, sanitizing stations, team member personal protective equipment (PPE), physical distancing measures and hybrid solutions for meetings, improved air circulation, and strict food safety procedures, have all been validated by SGS, building on local requirements and recommendations to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out. In addition, Radisson Hotel Group has adapted the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol specifically for Resorts, with attention to services like sports, spa facilities and kids’ clubs.
The Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol is an official cleanliness and disinfection label which can be used by hotels only after an in-depth centralized validation process has been conducted by SGS. In addition, selected hotels receive the additional SGS Disinfection monitored & Cleaning Checked label upon completion of a comprehensive local audit including on-site testing using the latest technology.
“At Radisson Hotel Group, the health and safety of our guests, team members and partners continue to be a top priority. The world has been fundamentally changed by COVID-19, so it is key that we continue innovating and striving to deliver a clean and safe environment to all who walk through our doors, stay in our hotels and conduct meetings in our properties. SGS has been a key partner to ensure our hotels are providing the best and latest health and safety measures, and we are proud to renew our partnership for a second year,” says Federico J. González, CEO, Radisson Hotel Group.
Frankie Ng, CEO of SGS, adds that: “Expert and documented validation by SGS of health, safety and prevention protocols related to COVID-19 has allowed the Tourism industry and Radisson Hotel Group to inspire trust and confidence to travelers around the world. The goal of our continued partnership is to ensure that the highest hygiene standards are met, and to protect guests as well as Radisson Hotel Group team members and partners.
As part of the Group’s ongoing commitment to the safe return of travel and to allow for a swift return to business, Radisson Hotel Group recently launched its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across their EMEA portfolio. In addition, hotels will be able to direct guests to an easily accessible and affordable PCR testing location. The comprehensive testing program for guests is groundbreaking in its coordinated approach across EMEA to reinstall confidence and peace of mind to travelers as the world returns to business by providing a safe environment and seamless testing facilitation.
Radisson Hotel Group continues play a key role in the development of the World Travel and Tourism (WTTC)’s “Safe Travels” and “Seamless Travel” health and safety protocols, a global framework and stamp for a safe return to business and to create consistency across the Travel and Tourism industry. The WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp is currently endorsed by over 200 destinations around the world.
Reimagining the Future of Sustainable Tourism in Africa
At Spurt! We are always looking to amplify solutions to critical and specific challenges in Sub Saharan Africa. This week, we reviewed Why Tourism Desperately Needs a New Performance Metric Post-Pandemic by Lebawit Lily Girma. The wake of COVID-19 and its effects on the Tourism sector has unearthed realities that the sector’s metric for success needs to go beyond the numbers; the arrivals and GDP contributions. There’s a solid case for other sustainable ways for measuring success that is as inclusive and effective in capturing the real value add brought by tourist activities. The ongoing equity issue and the colonial legacy entrenched in the sector have to be front and centre to address these.
Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors. According to the UN, It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. Due to the anchor role it plays in boosting economies, it is imperative that key stakeholders, with the government taking a leading part, take active steps in safeguarding the growth and sustainability of the sector. The sector’s importance notwithstanding, transparency
It is always subjective what the actual cost of a destination is. In Africa, there’s a pervasive question around the trickle-down effect of the money spent on tourism to the local communities and any transformative change that has occurred over time. Historically, the tourism value chain has always been fragmented. According to a McKinsey report, there has been limited coordination among the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up a large portion of the sector.
The information champions a more proactive government involvement in the industry through fostering creative alliances between the public and private sector. This cross-sector collaboration can act as an integral leadership centre in tackling emerging issues in the industry and mainstream responsible tourism. The Brookings Institution report on Africa’s tourism potential lauds the governments of Morocco, Mauritius, Kenya, and South Africa to prioritise the tourism sector as a critical driver of growth, allocating resources towards the development of the tourism sector.
Responsible tourism allows local communities to earn a modest income from the tourism activities while supporting conservation efforts. As Lebawit rightfully points out, all efforts geared towards building back the sector better will not be complete without local communities’ inclusion. As the call to decolonise the tourism sector become more substantial, it is becoming clear that innovative and localised tourism is key to a solid and resilient industry. Creative organisations like Turn Up Travel in Kenya are revolutionising responsible tourism through curating unique experiences through striking a balance between destination selection, commerce, conservation and community. More local organisations like Turn Up need to find the root is taking centre stage in diversifying the sector.
At Spurt, the conversation on championing responsible tourism excites us. Local MSMEs are front and centre in the drive to reimagine how a sustainable sector would look. We aspire to be the platform for fostering the growth of scalable local businesses in sub-Saharan Africa that adhere to the best performance and ethical standards. With our research and analytics capabilities, strategic advisory, stakeholder engagement, and implementation support, we are eager to work with local companies like Turn Up by convening, developing, and exciting the best young African thinkers passionate about working for their continent’s economic development.
Written by: Spurt!