The future of travel: What South Africans need to know

Travel has changed for South Africans and will continue to evolve during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here's what you need to know.

Thanks to the global Covid-19 pandemic and constant travel updates, things have changed forever and many are faced with a barrage of questions when it comes to booking a holiday., most notably with vaccine passports and PCR testing being top of the list.

South Africans will have to get used to changing the way they travel.

Recently, Big Ambitions hosted “Big Connect”, which gathered four travel and tourism experts to discuss vaccine passports and the future of travel.

Taking part in the panel were Otto De Vries, CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA); Lars Thykier, chair of World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) and director of the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA); Andrew Stark, managing director for Middle East and Africa for the Flight Centre Travel Group and Brian Kitchin, executive manager at Comair Limited.

Digital Passports

Digital passports are going to become a reality and travellers must get used to it. In fact, the travel industry wants it.

A simple digital form of travel that can easily record all information such as vaccines and visas in one place is something that will make travel during a pandemic more possible.

When and how this will happen remains to be seen.

Kitchin says: “We are definitely in favour of digital passports. Carrying simple documentation that allows you to travel is the ‘holy grail’. We’d like to see IATA [International Air Transport Association] take the lead. The simpler, the better, the less amount of documentation and complexity the better.”

The lure of booking a holiday months in advance will be gone

For many South Africans, booking an international holiday or even a local long vacation was something they looked forward to. It is a goal, something they can get excited about. That will be changed for a long time to come.

Many South Africans should be ready to book and leave soon. We talking weeks here, not months. Travel updates means you will need disposable income for your trip pretty soon.

Explains Thykier: “In the old days, we booked eight months in advance, now it’s eight days. Part of the pleasure of travelling is looking forward to it.”

Domestic and continental travel will become the norm

Traveling within South Africa will become the norm for local travelers because the country has a lot to offer.

From beach holidays to bush stays, South Africans can travel domestically relatively cheap as they recover financially from Covid-19.

After that, Saffers can start looking at traveling on the continent.

There are so many countries to choose from. Want an island holiday? Zanzibar. Want to check out an African city, why not visit Nairobi? Looking for the desert? Pop over to Swakopmund in Namibia.

With constant travel updates, the insurances and instability are easier to manage locally.

Says Stark: “The last 18 months have been all about ‘local is lekker’. We have a country that can support local travel well. We have always maintained that it would be a five-year growth to get back to 2019 levels.

“What I’ve seen in the last two weeks is that maybe it’s going to be a two-year process to get back to those levels. It’s been a hockey stick, and it’s been very quick.”

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