Industry experts expect family travel to open up after restrictions are lifted and have advised suppliers that they should be marketing Africa as a family-friendly destination.
In a webinar hosted by Jumbari Family Safaris, CEO of Ker & Downey Africa Group, Lee Kelsall, speculated that family travel would be top of mind for many travelling post-COVID.
“I think this period has forced us all to reflect on what is most important in life, and quality family time is high up most people’s list,” said Kelsall.
“We’ve been locked up with all our worldly possessions and all we’ve longed for is to go out. People will be looking for experiences that families can have together,” said International Sales Manager of One&Only Cape Town, Lize Smit.
In terms of post-COVID travel, Africa has an advantage, according to the panel. Many safari-based destinations allow guests to take part in multiple family-friendly activities with the added bonus of ‘natural social distancing’ in the wide-open spaces of Africa’s bushveld.
“There’s no better destination than safaris,” said Trade Relations Manager of Sabi Sabi, Jan Scholtz. He said while lodges and accommodation establishments were ready to welcome back guests, there would have to be several considerations in place post-pandemic.
Weighing in on how African suppliers could appeal to international family markets, CE of An African Anthology, Chris Anagnostellis, said: “Once one understands the regulations and conforms as best one can, you can present a good package.” He said families would be looking for something experiential, family-friendly and, most of all, affordable, and packages put together by suppliers needed to match that brief while adhering to health and safety regulations.
President and Founder of the Family Travel Association in the US, Rainer Jenns, agreed and said an attractive price would entice intrepid travellers without a doubt, emphasising that families from overseas would rely on sources they trusted to choose a destination.
According to Jenns these sources ranged from the word of friends or family to blogs or online communities. “Those returning to Africa will be more concerned about whom they trust, and if the price is right it’s a winning formula.”
Jenns said, according to global travel operators he had worked with, family travel to Africa in particular was usually multi-generational. This meant efforts would need to be made to accommodate the higher risk, older generations while still keeping the experience exciting for the younger family members.
“Overall, we feel positive about family travel. We predict that it will be highly sought-after once the global travel bans are lifted,” concluded Kelsall.