The multi-generational trend continues to characterise the family travel market and local product owners and service providers welcome these larger groups with open arms, constantly innovating to accommodate their requirements.

The segment, always sizeable, has shown encouraging growth over the last few years, according to Renier Friis, Tourvest DMC General Manager: Business Development & Contracting.

In the Eastern Cape at Lalibela Game Reserve, Marketing Director Vernon Wait observes not only groups of three generations plus, but also sets of two families, plus youngsters, holidaying together. For this reason, the reserve will soon open an exclusive, private-use villa catering for families.

At La Cotte, a farm-located facility in Franschhoek, management appreciates that larger groups translate to a need for bigger spaces and this carries weight in its plans for extending its accommodation facilities. So too is the provision of activities that lead to family bonding in a stress-free environment.

Wendy Rutherfoord, Director of Gondwana Game Reserve on the Garden Route, notes that families want their holidays to have an instructional purpose.  “Families are keen to get involved in nature and eco-activities that provide education for their children as well as a holiday. Guests like to disconnect from the world and reconnect as a family on safari, enjoying each other’s company in nature, learning about the larger eco system we all live in.  We are seeing a big interest in eco-tourism and guests wanting to contribute to conservation and learn about behind the scenes work on the reserve,” she says.

A spokesperson for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal also notes the family inclination towards holidays with an educational element. “Some that are looking for educational programmes enjoy the Midlands where they can take children to places like the Mandela Capture Site and, on the North Coast, the Luthuli Museum.” She says there is also a growing trend of families visiting health spas.

KZN, in fact, is a strong contender in the family travel market. Durban’s uShaka Marine World still rides the crest of the popularity wave for visiting families, while both North and South Coasts offer tons of family-style sports and adventure activities, both on the beach and in the interior.

Growing numbers of international visitors are cottoning on to the province’s large range of offerings at a range of price points, says Craig Rutherfoord, MD of Ghost Mountain Inn at Mkuze.

He highlights the Big Five game reserves of uMkhuze and Hluhluwe, Tembe with its huge elephants, Ndumo’s inland pans and birding, and the highlands of Itala. There is also an increasing variety of private reserves, he says, including Phinda, Thanda and Manyoni.

“The iSimangaliso Wetland Park covers a variety of coastal destinations that include Sodwana Bay, Cape Vidal, St Lucia and Kosi Bay, offering fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, whale and turtle tours or other beach activities,” he continues. “Combine this with rich cultural and historical offerings and we have a destination that offers great diversity of experiences, catering for a variety of affordability levels.”

Ghost Mountain Inn is well positioned for families to engage in wildlife and birding in uMkhuze and Hluhluwe game reserves, for boat cruises and fishing on Lake Jozini, for authentic cultural homestead visits and a variety of hiking options.  Longer day trips could include visits to St Lucia and the coastline.