The African travel and tourism industry was built largely on international visitors. Many tourist attractions on the continent, including hotels, resorts and safari operators, spent years focusing on attracting international travellers.
When COVID-19 reached the continent, which caused many countries to close their borders to international travellers, the focus shifted to local travellers. To lure domestic travellers, Africa hospitality expert Mark Havercroft suggests carefully curated and unforgettable travel experiences that appeal to local expectations.
“Competitiveness lies in the ability to create and integrate value-added products or experiences which, in the current scenario, have to appeal across the traveller spectrum, while taking advantage of what makes a particular destination unique and distinguishable for tourists.
“These include features that set the destination apart, and include things such as culture, architecture, gastronomy, infrastructure landscape, events and shopping,” not something a local guest feels can be had at home says Havercroft, speaking on the experience of Minor Hotels, which has successfully migrated into Africa to expand its footprint, which includes Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Europe and South America,” he said.
Here are some of his suggestions:
Fine dining with a local twist
A menu offering local ingredients prepared with international flair will always be a drawcard for international and domestic travellers alike. Take, for example, the Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort’s “Grilled Lobster”, roasted on an open fire on the beach within steps to the Indian Ocean which pays luxurious tribute to Mozambique’s Portuguese heritage.
Good food coupled with impeccable service from well-trained team members is an essential part of this dining experience.
A wine list to celebrate
Creating innovative cocktails that showcase authentic African flavours that guests won’t get anywhere else is a huge drawcard. Havercroft believes there should be pairings of excellent local and imported wines that go well with the meals.
A view to remember
Havercroft said views are important. He suggests comfortable and luxurious surroundings and locally inspired decor that creates a true sense of place.
“If you can add breathtaking views that showcase the surrounding natural beauty, you have a winning combination for every type of guest,” he said.
Events that educate and entertain
Include some local culture and give your guests an experience. From local music playing softly in the background of the lobby through to bespoke day trips that take guests out of the hotel, there are plenty of ways to get this right.
“It’s also critical to take note of, for example, Generation Z travellers’ appetite for more risk and adventure, which marks a significant shift away from traditional sun, sea and sand, and attraction-based tourism.
This requires an out-of-the-box response that provides diverse and distinct experiences, while supporting the socio-cultural and economic development of local communities,” he said.
Getting the balance right
Today’s travellers are seeking familiar comforts they can rely on, a dash of indigenous adventure and a sense of luxury that reminds them they’ve earned this holiday – or a blend of all three.