Travellers can now book a ticket to road trip on the WanderBus and experience more on their journeys this peak season.
Launched by South African domestic tourism platform, Locals Who Wander (LWW), the WanderBus travels through popular routes over a two-day guided tour, stopping at South Africa’s most social-media-worthy spots and experiences.
Tickets include transit in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus, accommodation, entry fees at national parks and selected activities, as well as one bag weighing 15kg and one of 5kg. The ticket excludes meals and beverages.
“We decided to take advantage of the necessity of travel and incorporate leisure into the trips that many South Africans take every year,” said LWW Co-Founder, Mandisa Magwaxaza.
“We focused on the most popular flight routes,” said LWW Co-Founder Justin Perumal. The current routes offered by the WanderBus are Johannesburg-Durban, Durban-East London and Port Elizabeth-Cape Town, with a demand-based shuttle service between East London and Port Elizabeth.
“We initially started with just the Johannesburg-Durban route but after analysing the other routes realised they all fitted perfectly into the two-day itinerary format,” said Perumal.
He said it was looking into developing more routes based on the success of the current routes, ultimately aiming to connect all South Africa’s provinces.
Magwaxaza told Tourism Update that the product had the potential to support many aspects of the tourism industry. “We are supporting tourist guides, many of whom have had a difficult year due to the lockdown. We are also supporting the youth tourism industry, by making use of their backpacker-style accommodations and lodgings for these trips,” she said.
She added that travellers were welcome to upgrade their accommodation through the WanderBus to single rooms or even different establishments at an extra cost.
“We have kept the tour affordable, and it costs roughly the same as an air ticket between the destinations. We are running an early-bird special until December 12, so prices are currently as low as they get. After December 12, pricing will go into the next tier, and during that phase travel agents will be able to earn commission on them.” Magwaxaza added that including as much of the tourism industry as possible was LWW’s goal.
“This meant including the agents and giving them a way to get involved with the product. We of course want to empower people selling the product and will be hosting a product knowledge Zoom course on December 7.”
“LWW will be taking a small admin fee but the lion’s share of the profits ultimately goes back into developing the small businesses we are partnering with,” said Perumal.
He said while the WanderBus was working with tour operators on the current routes, there was an open invitation for other operators and suppliers to get involved with the products as they grew.
All safety and COVID protocols have been taken into consideration and travellers will have to pass a screening before boarding the bus. “The vehicles will be sanitised and wearing masks is required at all times,” said Magwaxaza. She added that travelling with the smaller groups on the WanderBus offered an added element of safety.
“It can also be booked for exclusive use to maximise safety, but this will obviously change the rates,” said Perumal.
He told Tourism Update that clients could put their minds at ease knowing that the bus offered a full refund policy should they not pass the screening, or should the tour be cancelled or postponed. “There is definitely an element of risk in offering the full refund, but in the time of COVID you have to be agile,” he said.