For African Travel, 2021 was a lurching, stammering year that began in hope, flirted with whiplash, and then again shuddered to a halt with the discovery of Omicron in late November. In 2021, while miraculously effective vaccines showed up, here in South Africa we survived an insurrection, local government elections and the most number of power outages since Eskom’s load shedding began a few years ago. It is no wonder that the deliberate preservation of mental health has been a major theme in 2021!
With resilience and tenacity into 2022
But as is characteristic of our country, and our industry, resilience was everywhere. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic and even though the omicron variant has been unsettling to those willing to travel, the tourism industry is feeling particularly optimistic about 2022.
While travel looks certain to make a return in 2022, there is still a long way to go. So let’s take a look at what we at Rhino Africa believe the key travel trends and values will be that will shape our travel industry in 2022.
1. Tech-Empowered Travel Will Be Essential
It cannot be understated the role technology will continue to play during 2022 and beyond. From digital vaccine passports to real-time travel notifications, technology solutions will play a pivotal role in keeping guests informed and providing guidance with all travel decisions.
As countries begin to welcome back vaccinated guests, requirements for testing, quarantines, and forms will still vary between destinations. Providing clear and current international travel requirements (plus timely updates should travel conditions change) will be essential to supporting guests throughout their journey.
We at Rhino Africa have embraced innovative technology solutions to keep our guests safe and provide instant access to help and information. With our partnership with Sherpa, digital e-Visas, state-of-the-art digital client journey and concierge support through WhatsApp or chat, we continue to provide innovative solutions that provide extra peace of mind for our guests.
2. Personalisation and Guidance – More Crucial than Ever
In addition to travel requirements, guests are seeking a greater degree of personalisation and expert guidance to every aspect of their African itineraries. While pre-Covid holiday planning often occurred via review sites or light web browsing, we have become conscious that there is much more for guests to consider, particularly when it comes to long-haul African Travel.
Tailor-made African holidays have been our speciality for over 17 years and Covid-19 has highlighted the benefit and importance of the direct relationship our Tour Operating channel offers. Throughout Covid-19, our expert destination and product knowledge has been complemented by hyper-local destination content to provide authoritative information. Even during 2021, our Travel Experts still visited the far corners of our beautiful continent so they could provide first-hand knowledge on what safe travel to Africa was like.
The additional Covid-19 protocol information does make the planning of African itineraries and logistics a much more complex process than usual. We understand that Rhino guests will expect additional personalised support as travel commences in 2022.
3. Preferential Experiences in 2022
As guests consider their 2022 travel plans, we have noted how enriching travel experiences are top of mind. Many guests are looking to reconnect with loved ones. And the wide open spaces of Africa provide some of the best rest and socially distanced explorations the world has to offer. Guests continue to seek out hidden gems, dream destinations and opportunities for wildlife-focused activities, which Africa has in abundance.
The strength of trusted supplier partnerships will be key to ensuring we deliver life-changing travel experiences through 2022. Confidence in essential health measures, combined with pristine nature experiences, will add an extra vital layer of support to our clients’ particular journey.
It is our belief that hotels and lodges across sub-Saharan Africa will do well to highlight cleaning protocols, wellness programmes and wildlife and cultural excursions that change lives!
4. Sustainability, a continuous travel trend in 2022 and beyond
Sustainability in the travel industry across the globe is, and will be, a continuous trend in travel. As the world emerges from the worst of the pandemic, there is a key focus on the intolerable inequities brought into focus by lockdown and climate change that has made itself more evident by the day.
Tourism trends surrounding low-carbon travel will continue to evolve as guests keep a keen eye on organisation’s environmental initiatives. It is our belief that there will also be increased expectations around transparency from hotels, lodges and airIines on their sustainability initiatives. Because as international guests become more aware of the climate crisis, their concern will grow for reducing one’s footprint and enjoying holidays responsibly.
In Africa, tourism enriches our guests’ lives while also supporting the livelihoods of millions across the continent. As we enter 2022, our industry will have to double our efforts and revisit how we create visibility that demonstrates the tangible impact of long haul travel to Africa. This will ensure we maintain decades of brand equity and conservation off the foundation of bringing guests to African soil.
Book with the Best, book with Rhino Africa
After almost two years of uncertainty, we cannot still be 100% clear on what the future of travel looks like, but we can at least see a bright light on the horizon. Travel requirements, health protocols, safety measures and sustainability will remain continuous topics in 2022. More importantly however, we have already noticed that guests are reaching for their passports and booking their dream African holidays.
In short, the 2022 outlook for African Travel is rosier than ever, but we urge all guests to expect to do more advance planning and remain flexible! It’s still going to be a strange time to travel, so bring a level of patience and grace to your travel experience with you.
When it comes to Africa, we urge all guests to remember that not all countries or their citizens have had equal access to vaccines, making the respect of mask mandates and other local rules of utmost importance. But as someone who has been in this industry for over two decades, what Rhino Africa is witnessing is that the desire to travel is incredibly strong – the strongest I think we’ve ever seen. Don’t miss out and book now!