Cape Town - If you're looking for an island escape but don't want to burn into your savings, or endure a 12-hour connecting flight there, you need to consider Zanzibar.
A few years ago, the Spice Island was as inaccessible a destination as any other Indian Ocean island to travellers from SA.
But since commencing flights in 2013, SA low-cost carrier Mango has doubled its weekly capacity into Zanzibar.
Unsurprisingly, these direct flights between Johannesburg and Zanzibar continue to gain momentum as the island is increasing becoming a value destination for South Africans.
Mango says their sources indicate an aggregate of 175 000 tourists that visited Zanzibar last year, with South Africans representing approximately 10% of all inbound tourism into Zanzibar.
Last year Mango carried over 26 000 guests to and from the island, and is the only carrier to offer direct flights from South Africa.
Earlier this year, in a survey done by the airline, SA holidaymakers also indicated that Zanzibar was their top choice as a honeymoon destination, from all Mango's routes.
Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout says the destination’s popularity is such that the airline’s capacity near quadruples during high-demand days over peak times. “We are already considering additional frequencies for the year-end period as sustained growth continues.”
The Spice Island serves as an easily accessible breakaway for travellers with budgets across the board.
“Accommodation options across all levels of comfort is available across the isle’s 263 leisure properties, of which only 20 are classified as five-star plus. This has made Zanzibar very accessible to South African tourists across many levels of affordability,” Bezuidenhout says.
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Beyond South African outbound leisure travel to Zanzibar, Mango is also looking to other markets to further drive growth on the route. South Africa could serve as a gateway to the island from markets such as the Americas and Australasia, with are still largely untapped.
Johannesburg Zanzibar was Mango’s first foray into Africa. “It has been a success story for us and,” Bezuidenhout says.
He says that the leisure market will continue to be a focus for route development beyond domestic borders, “with the demand-side potential and the economy being determining factors in our ongoing business development strategy.”
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