Rand-friendly destinations, such as Mauritius and Thailand, cruising and all-inclusive packages and tours are expected to be travel bestsellers at the Flight Centre Travel Group’s annual Travel Expo.
The Expo will be held at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg on 9-10 February 2019.
While South Africans have been travelling abroad, says Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, they’re not going to be planning a trip where they can’t get more bang for their buck any time soon.
Stark says, “The most popular destinations at the 2018 Travel Expo, based on booking volume, were Mauritius, followed by Thailand, the UK, Australia and South Africa. Given the current rand-dollar situation, travellers can really save by booking their holidays to 2019’s trending and most popular destinations as early as possible.”
He says most travellers, after returning from a trip overseas and assessing their expenses - like paying R250 for a coffee – they’re wanting destinations where they can get more bang for their buck.
Sure, they’ve booked ski holiday or they’ve been to Australia, but they generally vow not to go back when the rand is as weak as it is.
Thus Stark says, demand for breaks closer to home or local breaks is expected to increase.
“Overall this bodes well for SA tourism and South Africans. The more we can travel in our homeland and closer to our borders the better it enriches the lives of South Africans, all the way to the lives of their kids as well.”
But with that said – even if you’re hankering for a ski break, or the more rand-friendly escapes of the Far East, the exclusive deals available at the upcoming Expo is not something to miss out on.
According to Stark, global travel trends for 2019 feature off-the-beaten-track destinations, sustainable travel, cold-climate travel and even (according to Lonely Planet) ancestry exploration for travellers keen to discover their cultural roots.
He also says all-inclusive type travel is especially sought-after at this time.
“This is why cruising has been booming for the last 10 years. You get on to a ship and you don’t have to pack and unpack your clothes for the next couple of days – as you get to see several countries and all your costs are included.”
But what should you be looking out for while at the Expo?
“I am a family man, and personally still for me the best holiday is Mauritius. There are a number of flights to get you to the island. They are really good with service, we as South Africans can learn a lot from Mauritians.
"There is also about 150 resorts to choose from. Each offering about five restaurants and kids facilities – all with generally good rates that are all inclusive.
"We usually go for about two weeks of the year – and it really is our R&R time."
Another firm favourite is Zanzibar, which Stark says reminds him of Mauritius about 19 years ago – also a destination that stretches the rand a lot further.
“Thailand and Bali – hugely popular. Some of my friends and family have just come back and experience how cheap it is when you are in the destination.”
On the other hand, we’ve had friends who have come back from Disney and realised it’s just very expensive. Something to consider but we’ve got choices and we still have lots of airlift to South Africa which is a good thing.
So we know where the good destinations are but what is a benchmark good-value package price to look out for right now?
Stark says the deals available at the travel expo, will range from under R5k, R10k and R15k.
His advice for securing one of these holiday packages would be to “always benchmark what does a flight cost. Once you have an idea of flight costs, for instance with Mauritius right now its varies between R6k to R9k depending on seasonality.
"If you see a package for R15k that includes 7-nights and includes meals like breakfast and dinner, as well as activities, it's good value. Just by subtracting the initial cost for return flights will give you a good indication of the value on offer.
Stark says Flight Centre has been using its buying power to secure the best deals to offer exceptional value limited to the 48 hours of the expo.
"We’ve been involved in the expo for 9 years. When it started there were about 1 500 people through the door in Sandton Convention centre below the baby expo.
“The Travel expo has become as synonymous as boerewors in SA,” he says.
Currently the event sees about 22 000 people through the door, with some R75 million travel sold over the expo weekend.
So who should attend and why?
Stark says if you’re planning for 2020, there is no better place than the travel expo – with 200 exhibitors under one roof all looking to help tailor your experience with the best deal available – since they have unique specials going exclusive to the show.
“It’s simply the perfect place to book all your trips for the rest of the year with more than 200 of Southern Africa’s best travel suppliers and booking experts all under one roof. With over 120 experienced Flight Centre travel experts available to help visitors plan and book their travels during the two-day event,” says Stark.
What to expect at Travel Expo 2019?
Don't miss this year's Travel Talks. The event highlight was introduced last year and proved hugely popular with suppliers, customers and travel experts. There will also be fun-filled activities for visitors of any age.
“Travel Expo is fun for the whole family with a kids’ play area and a beer garden to keep you entertained and relaxed in between shopping up a storm. Save the date and book your ticket now; you don’t want to miss out,” urges Stark.
Tickets are now on sale online at www.travelexpo.co.za for R50. Entry is free for children under 18 years of age.
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