Characterised by vast diversity across a multitude of fascinating destinations, the continent of Africa is united in a common effort to further enhance and advance its tourism product, with new initiatives set to broaden the horizon for new market segments. Emily Millett reports.
Africa’s many destinations are working towards a common goal: enhancing and refining their tourism products to entice a broader audience. This product enhancement begins with enriching the country’s hotel portfolio, with new additions including the debut of the Gran Melia brand in Africa. The first hotel of this kind will be the 171-room, five-star Gran Melia Arusha, which is launching this month.
“Our new opening will be the third Melia in Tanzania, which really reinforces Melia’s mark in Africa,” said cluster director of sales and marketing, Gran Meliá Arusha, Meliá Zanzibar and Meliá Serengeti Lodge, Carmen Wakeford.
As well as this exciting upcoming opening, Melia Hotels International has just launched 17 new THE LEVEL Beach Pavilions and a THE LEVEL two-bedroom Beach Suite at Melia Zanzibar.
Undergoing refurbishments of a number of city hotels and lodges over the coming years, Sarova Hotels is also looking to respond to Africa’s current travel trends, which, according to the group’s head of marketing, Caroline Wandetto, includes train travel, active travel and heritage tourism.
“In addition to train travel, a developing trend in the region and Africa as a whole, active travel is also gaining momentum,” Wandetto told TTG. “Heritage tourism, which involves travelling to experience places, artefacts and activities, is on the rise and as Sarova Hotels group, we have a number of properties that will satisfy these needs.”
According to Wandetto, all Sarova properties offer walking safaris, heritage tours or day visits to monuments and museums, all with certified and experienced guides.
MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL TRAVEL OPTIONS
At a time when travelling with a conscience and purpose is rising in popularity, the industry in Africa is seeing a spike in travellers interested in more altruistic pursuits.
Commenting on this trend, senior reservations consultant, Illyria House South Africa, Johané de Villiers told TTG: “More and more guests and establishments are ‘going green’ and becoming eco-friendly. We are implementing eco-friendly services; for example, towels and linen only get washed every second day. We use electricity sparingly and are looking into introducing a recycling programme.”
In the Seychelles, Kempinski Seychelles Resort Baie Lazare is continuing its journey towards improved sustainable business practices, after recently being awarded Silver Certified status by EarthCheck – the leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism.
The property’s environmental commitments respond to a noted increase in demand, as the hotel’s general manager, Masami Egami, explained: “At Kempinski Seychelles Resort Baie Lazare, we recognise that the Seychelles’ unique biodiversity and spectacular natural beauty are our strongest assets and we are actively committed to protecting these assets, transforming our operational procedures to meet the increasing demand for green initiatives and eco-friendly travel destinations, by optimising our energy consumption, reducing waste production and carbon emissions, and supporting and empowering the community in which we operate.”
Meanwhile, reinforcing its commitment to environmental awareness, Tourvest DMC plans to include a Green Seat on all guided tours for 2020, giving guests the opportunity to contribute towards developing disadvantaged communities and conserving wildlife and the planet.
“Responsible tourism and travelling with purpose are moving beyond being industry trends to becoming key decision-making factors when it comes to creating travel experiences for some of our source markets,” sales director, Tourvest DMC, Suzanne Benadie told TTG. “Today’s traveller is more aware of their impact on the environment and wants to ensure that they are spending wisely, acting responsibly and empowering local communities. Tourvest DMC has specific itineraries with vetted suppliers that address all these needs.”
The marked interest in clients seeking holidays where they can make a difference has led companies such as Sense of Africa Botswana to partner with initiatives offering conservation awareness and ways to experience local culture in a sustainable way, according to the organisation’s sales and marketing director, Harriet Sobey.
Also supporting this movement, Fancourt in South Africa is launching several initiatives across its high-end hotels and golf courses, as director of sales and marketing, Fancourt, Peter Dros explained to TTG: “Travel with a purpose is a real driver. Guests want to know that their stay or visit is contributing to the community and helping to conserve the environment.”
Glass-bottled water that is refilled onsite is offered at Fancourt Hotel and The Manor House, and plastic bottle tops are collected and recycled for a charity initiative whereby a wheelchair is donated to an Old Age Home or community charity for every 450kg of bottle tops collected. Both hotels are set to undergo a series of refurbishments this winter.
SHIFTING TARGET GROUPS
Vast diversity across the continent means that Africa attracts a broad market spectrum. However, there is always room for improvement, with new target groups set to further enhance arrival figures. According to Dros, South Africa is set to see a boost in the inbound family tourism market thanks to a relaxing of arrivals requirements for minors.
This opinion was echoed by de Villiers of Illyria House South Africa, who also noted an increase in family and small group travel to Africa and South Africa.
“The main focus of South Africa should definitely be the youth with regards to travelling,” he said, “as this age group’s travel rates have already decreased by 50 per cent within the last year.”
The growing importance of the younger generation as travel buyers to Africa has not gone unnoticed by Kwantu Private Game Reserve, which recently launched an all-new camp called Elephant Ridge Lodge, built specifically with the Millennial traveller in mind.
“Millennial travellers want luxury in the bush, while still being fully connected and having access to all of the facilities that they would expect at a city hotel,” CEO, Kwantu Private Game Reserve, Shakir Jeeva told TTG. “Going forward, Kwantu will continue to grow this sector, in addition to launching our spa and wellness centre, which will serve to compliment the current offerings available on the reserve.”
This new, younger market is catalysing the increase in demand for experiential travel, as CEO, Saffir Africa, Njoroge Nguru commented: “We are seeing an increased appreciation for experiences as travellers keep getting younger. This is the way the connected generation prefers to travel. We are also seeing robust growth in the business travel segment that is driven by the increasing importance of Nairobi as a business hub for this part of Africa. As a result, hotel business continues to grow in and around the capital city.”
Already a firm favourite amongst travellers in search of adventure and action, Africa is broadening its horizons to appeal to a more experience-led, environmentally conscious and purpose driven traveller.