Family travel has grown significantly over the past few years, with parents and their children – and often extended family – journeying to countries across southern and East Africa to experience the destinations as a family unit.

“We have seen a significant increase in requests for family accommodation,” says Chris Anagnostellis, CEO of An African Anthology, “and of course as the industry understands this and offers more family accommodation options, so does the demand increase.”

Tour operators have noticed a marked increase in inbound family travel from Europe and Australia, “where families of between four and eight people travel together – mainly parents and children, but in some cases extended family too,” says Anagnostellis. “We are also noticing an increase from France, the UK, Scandinavia and India but in the case of India, we regard them more as a group than family travel due to their size of family when they travel.”

Peter Dros, Sales and Marketing Director of Fancourt, concurs, saying that Fancourt has noted the European and UK markets as the top source markets for family travel to Africa. Adding to this, Angela Iacovazzo, Head of Global Sales and Product Development at TouchDown DMC, notes the United States, Germany and Canada as top source markets, as well as more requests coming from the Asia-Pacific market.

Nhlanhla Ngwenya, Communications Coordinator of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, told Tourism Update that India was a strong source market for family travel into southern and East Africa. However, visa issues and unabridged birth certificate requirements remain escalating barriers to entry, not only to the Indian market but to inbound travellers in general. “The unabridged birth certificate and visa requirement issues have definitely affected families travelling to South Africa,” says Dros, seconded by Iacovazzo, who says it has made the process for people travelling with minors more complex.

Anagnostellis, however, says that despite the challenges posed by visa regulations and unabridged birth certificate requirements, An African Anthology still receives a fair amount of business. “But this is from traditional source markets mainly, that are able to more readily conform to the requirements. I would say the visa and unabridged birth certificate issues in South Africa could impact travel to other southern African countries that would be on the same itinerary, as in many instances a family travelling to South Africa would also travel to other southern Africa countries, and may be put off altogether and not travel. In this instance it may well be that East Africa benefits as a result.”