The outbound family travel market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.6% from 376 million in 2022, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, providing much potential for inbound travel to Southern and East Africa.

The company’s latest report, ‘Key Trends in Family Travel’, highlights the fact that family travel accounts for 30.8% of outbound tourism and will retain its hold through the forecast period, largely driven by the booming Chinese market.

However, China is not the only key source market showing significant growth potential in family travel, reveals Masa Yamawaki, Market Manager for Asia, Australia and Nordics at Tourvest DMC. “We’ve seen an increase of family travel from Australia, New Zealand and India.”

Both James Robb, aha Hotels & Lodges International Sales Manager, and Collin Thaver, MD of Southern Africa 360, have also noticed an increase in family travel from the Indian market.

However, according to Robb, aha Hotels & Lodges receives families from all markets, with high concentrations also coming from the UK and Italy; whilst Thaver has also noted growth stemming from Denmark.

In addition to this, Gavin Rennie, Director of Off2Africa, a Zimbabwe-based DMC, notes growth from the USA, UK, Europe, India, Canada and Australia.

Speaking about the American market, Andrea Schaffner, Market Manager for North America at Tourvest DMC, said: “We’ve seen an increase in family travel from the American market, however the birth certificate debacle did cause some ripples. The family travel trend has been growing for the last five to seven years, and now that everything else has become easier, we have opened our doors more.”

Sara Grady, Head of Travel and Tourism for GlobalData, commented: “As disposable income grows and emerging markets open their borders, we will see trends like multigenerational travel driving trips, particularly from hugely valuable source markets like China, and this represents a massive opportunity for the industry if it is able to tap into the specific needs of this complex cohort.” Both Rennie and Thaver concur.

Out of Australia and New Zealand, Yamawaki says Tourvest DMC is starting to see multi-generational travel, where there are small groups of fewer than 10 people, spanning three generations, some even travelling with infants; whereas in the Indian and Nordic markets, families tend to travel with children over the age of five.

Esther Ruempol, Market Manager for Benelux at Tourvest DMC, has seen a trend towards increased family travel from the Benelux markets, where booking requests are coming in for families with children of all ages across multiple generations.

American travellers tend to bring children of all ages and, in some cases, Schaffner says grandparents are taking their grandchildren away without the parents for a treat and to spend time with them.

The family travel market is characterised by increasingly sophisticated and disparate traveller demands with the industry now needing to cater to the wants and needs of many different age groups, and consumers who are more than ever, used to having tailored products and services available to them. From the provision of more transformational activities to the seamless availability of technology, all elements must be considered with greater focus.

More establishments are welcoming children, however there is a difference between child tolerant and child friendly, according to Yamawaki. “More properties, particularly the higher-end product offering, have child-specific programmes to entertain kids, or offer babysitting services. At Tourvest DMC, we like to ensure that our consultants offer children-friendly products instead of children-tolerant products through regular product training.”

The rise of technology has made world a ‘smaller’ place and has opened up many eyes to how family-friendly South Africa is as a destination. “Airlines have become more accommodating to children travelling as well, so it all works toward driving the increase in family travel,” added Schaffner.

Family travel has gained momentum in South Africa, as it is considered more affordable, and increased air access makes it more accessible, according to Thaver. SA offers a varied holiday experience, from beaches and adventure, to wildlife, outdoor activities, culture and its scenic beauty.  

“The world is increasingly becoming a smaller place. Long-haul travel is not as much of a luxury as it was in previous years. We definitely can feel and anticipate a rise in family travel,” said Rennie. 

He explained that parents want quality time with their children and to have them appreciate experiences. “Travel is educational and broadens understanding and knowledge. Travel to Africa is simpler now with the additional connectivity between destinations,” added Rennie.

“Family travel is moving beyond the traditional sun and beach getaway to offer families some much-needed time to reconnect with each other and create lasting memories, increasingly in unique destinations, or on niche holidays, from cultural trips to activity-filled adventures. It has never been so essential to offer travellers something beyond the norm to stand out from the crowd and which caters for their specific demands, irrespective of where they are from,” concluded Grady.