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World Tourism Organization reveals 10 trends in travel for 2022

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During the Africa Travel Week conference held in Cape Town in April, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released a report on trends recorded in travel in Africa for 2022.

Picture: Katchie Nzama 

1. Greenwashing won’t cut it anymore

Greater transparency. More accountability. Real-life examples of conservation. This is what travellers will be looking for when they travel to Africa and beyond in 2022. ‘Sustainability is not an ad hoc problem. Our industry needs to invest in sustainability and actively work to conserve our resources, our heritage, our wildlife and our ecology,’ said tourism and Hospitality Consultant Gillian Saunders.

2. African cuisine will take its place at the global table 

African cuisine has a real opportunity to make its mark as an important part of the travel experience, but it will not ‘just’ happen. There needs to be a concentrated effort by the African tourism industry to prepare potential tourists for African gastronomy and to create excitement.

3. Diversity: The same but different 

The pandemic has seen an emergence of ‘the diversity traveller’ — people with needs beyond the nuclear couple or family, such as single women travelling alone, single-parent families, people of colour, the LGBTQ+ market and people with disabilities. ‘Diversity is part of the tourism eco-system. Tourism products need to create marketing material that is reflective of the diversity in this world,’ said Saunders.

4. Accessibility will be a game changer for tourism 

According to UNWTO, ensuring accessibility for tourists with specific access requirements could be a ‘game changer’ for destinations around the world, including Africa. Tourism environments and services will need to be designed with different access requirements in mind.

5. Luxury is no longer about money; it is about time and wellness 

Travelling with purpose, meaningful experiences, bucket-list destinations and itineraries, and exclusive escapes (travel bubbles and remote locations away from the crowds) are the main luxury travel trends we’ll see in Africa.

6. Travel Bubbles: Group travel of a different kind 

The pandemic may be largely behind us, but ‘travel bubbles’ are here to stay with a marked increase in demand for multigenerational trips. Africa is ideally positioned to tap into this exciting trend.

7. From over-tourism to impact tourism 

Over-tourism was a major concern prior to the pandemic, and destinations don’t want to return to the status quo. Instead, restorative safaris that make a positive impact on conservation and communities will become more popular, as will intimate and authentic experiences.

8. Slow tourism is coming of age 

The trend for 2022 is that people are taking longer trips with fewer stops, the coming of age of what has been coined ‘slow tourism’. African operators have seen more demand for longer stays with simpler, less multi-country itineraries.

9. Flexcation, bleisure, workcation − the workforce of tomorrow 

Remote work has turned the global workforce onto its head. Employees are now insisting on a more flexible workplace with a renewed focus on work-life balance. This new trend is creating incredible opportunities for destinations in Africa.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis explained he has seen a huge interest in remote working in the Western Cape. However, for this trend to be successful, it is imperative to introduce a seamless remote working visa. ‘Before people went on a work trip and added a few days’ bleisure. Today, they choose their destination and decide to work from there. Some tour operators have already started tapping into this trend,’ added Saunders.

10. Tech and human connection go hand-in-hand 

If we’re very honest, most of us have forgotten how to live – and travel – without technology. The pandemic has accelerated our adoption of technology even further.

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