As we steam boisterously towards a whole new year of possibilities, amongst other global inclinations, the principal travel trends for 2017 have also emerged.
In today’s fast-paced world, as we vainly endeavour to juggle excessively demanding schedules, days crammed to capacity with work and home activities, it is no surprise that the travel industry is seeing a continued move towards more focussed holidays.
Whilst ‘normal’ vacations will never be out of vogue, it would appear there are those who hanker after more than just ‘standard’ fun in the sun, and a number of key holiday elements have been tagged for 2017.
As the name suggests, experiential or immersion travel, allows travellers to focus wholly on experiencing a country, a city, or a particular place, on a deeper level … by connecting to it’s history, it’s people, and it’s culture.
Much more than a trendy axiom, experiential travel is about participation, about steeping oneself intensely in a country at the level of felt experience, rather than merely as a bystander or as an onlooker.
Experiential travel is unhurried, it is culturally authentic, it is emotional, and it is personal.
And what better place or space to immerse yourself in cultural realism than the captivating and culturally rich regions of Southern and East Africa respectively.
Visit inspiring community development projects, enroll in a local cooking courses, partake in a guided wine tour, dine in a township, participate in a rhino tracking and micro-chipping operation … count endangered turtle eggs on a remote shoreline … appease an array of sensory cravings, all whilst engaging deeply with warm-hearted people, in an authentic and beautiful landscape.
Multi Generational Travel
Multi-generational tourism is a continued travel trend for 2017.
Where previously this type of travel tended to incidental and occasional family gatherings, nowadays it’s no secret that families are spending more time (and more money), travelling together.
The ideal of spending more quality time as an extended family, is very real, which is why more and more parents and grandparents, are beginning to appreciate the benefits of the African wilderness, and family bush safaris particularly, as a high-value family holiday option.
Southern Africa is fast becoming a destination of choice for families wanting their children to experience the enchantment of a meaningful vacation, where days are spent immersed in the great outdoors, witnessing the bush environment first-hand and at its absolute authentic best.
Choose from a sole-use lodge, especially suited to several generations, or a game lodge offering personalised packages expressly for children; either choice will entertain, educate, and ignite an interest in ecology, wildlife, the wilderness, and the cycle of life.
There is absolutely no need for electronic devices here, it’s hands-on, it’s enlightening, it’s healthy stimulation, it’s relaxed bonding time … for adults and youngsters alike.
Eco Tourism – Green Travel
With a rising consumer and industry interest in sustainable-and eco-tourism, hotels, lodges, camps, and tour operators are striving to incorporate responsible eco practices into their operations.
In line with this, the trend is for travellers to plan low-impact vacations and getaways, and to visit eco conscious destinations where conservation is top of mind.
Parts of Southern African, and in particular, South Africa, are high rankers in responsible tourism, and offer many superb eco destinations and sustainable tourism products, where relevant hotels, camps and lodges have a minimum effect on the environment, where staff are treated fairly and employed ethically … whilst still providing levels of luxury every bit as sumptuous as their counterparts.
By choosing to visit these properties and those destinations where conservation is a priority and where Fair Trade is practiced, not only is the precious environment being safeguarded, but income generated by tourism also finds its way back into local communities.
Mindfulness and Wellness Travel
It is not surprising that in today’s somewhat jaded and weary world, there is also a large global trend in mindful and wellness travel for 2017,
Mindful and wellness travel is the principle of unplugging from the rat-race, of linking travel, with for instance, meditation and yoga, of nourishing the senses and attuning to nature, and with taking care of the self.
An aspiration for many travellers whilst on vacation is to gain life-enhancing skills through mindful and spiritual activities that can then be applied to everyday life.
The principle extends to mindfulness and awareness of loved ones, and the environment, and quality time spent with both.
And this is all very apropos in Southern Africa, where the term ‘wellness in the wilderness’, has become commonplace, with travelers seeking unique and authentic experiences, resulting in a demand for what may be termed more spiritual travel.
Diverse, and bursting with raw beauty, Southern Africa is brim-full of opportunities for enriching the mindful traveler –
Stargazing in the Namibian desert is one wellness experience, including the body, mind and soul, that can truly bring a sense of calm and reflection to a person.
Or travelers can reconnect with themselves, as well as with nature, as they dive amongst hundreds of species of tropical fish and extraordinary coral reefs on any of Mozambique’s tropical islands. To expand the experience, in some instances, spa treatments may take place in direct sight of the beach.
Resorts such as Kenya-based Campi ya Kanzi offer a luxury eco-lodge including yoga classes and meditation in the middle of the savannah at sunset. Whilst a truly unique experience is the Africa yoga walking safari, where travelers walk, practice yoga and meditate in Africa’s most remote and untouched wilderness areas, such as the Luangwa Valley in Zambia.
Luxurious, yet eco-conscience and mindful, there are a myriad of authentic African encounters and holistic destinations to spiritually enrich and sustain the soul.
Active or Adventure Travel
A consumer shift away from material possessions, towards an interest in actual experiences, has seen an ever-rising trend in adventure travel for 2017.
The trend is however away from ‘hard’ adventure, or traditional adventuring, and in the direction of ‘soft adventure’ and ‘microadventure’, either stand-alone, or added on to a holiday.
Soft adventure refers to low risk activities that are usually achievable with minimum previous experience, and microadventure is the term coined by British explorer Alastair Humphreys, for an outdoor adventure, small and achievable for normal people with real lives.
Both types of adventure tends to be minimalist in terms of gear, both types of adventure suited for people aspiring to cope with their fast-paced lives, both types of adventure ties in with an increasing drive for healthier lifestyles.
Southern and East Africa embodies all of the above qualities, making it an irresistible destination for international travellers no matter the demographic.
Whether a luxury desert camp on the edge of the Kalahari, or trekking the forests of East Africa in search of mountain gorilla, whether sleeping out on a platform under the African stars, or a walking safari in the South Luangwa Valley of Zambia, travelers are embracing undiscovered environments and experiences in an entirely more adventurous manner.
Special Interest Tours – Birding, Photography, Shopping, Art et al
In line with the fact that most individuals nowadays have very little spare time to practice specific interests, and also in line with the move towards actual experiences, there is a travel trend towards special interest tours.
Special interest tours may take the form of a cooking holiday, a birding vacation, learning how to scuba dive, seeking the perfect wildlife photo, pursuing the passion to shop (whether for ceramic collectibles, or items as personal as authentic and original jewelry )… or for those interested in art, a special interest art tour to Southern Africa may involve exploring a number of art routes or visiting an array of outstanding art galleries.
Southern African, and South Africa, simply and really, does have it all.
Most Welcome Travel Trend 2017
Laudable mention must be made of one additional and most welcome 2017 travel trend, the move away from animal interactions of any sort.
Where elephant-back riding, ‘swimming with dolphins’, ‘walking with lions’ (and the like), used to be acceptable, these activities, and correctly so, have been spurned, for the cruel and exploitive undertakings they are
Not only does East Africa and Southern African respectively, and South Africa in particular, top all of the lists as burgeoning international destinations, but also as top-notch on trend travel destinations for 2017 as well.