HomeSmart LivingWhere and how South Africans will travel in 2024

Where and how South Africans will travel in 2024

A new year always brings a wave of ‘new’ destinations and experiences to discover, influenced by global trends lists. But which of these trends are relevant for us here in Mzansi? Thankfully, there is some insight. Flight Centre South Africa published a whitepaper in 2023, South Africa’s Year in Travel 2023, showcasing how South Africans travelled in the year and where they went.

Some key nuggets from the whitepaper revealed that:

Mauritius remained the top international destination, while Johannesburg proved the favoured local urban getaway. For ocean-faring travellers, 51.5 years old was the average age amongst our cruise-loving clientele. Domestically, one mega George expedition required coordinating a 33-person travelling party. With over 200 infant tickets booked, family holidays continue trending, too. And when it comes to extended domestic vacations, a three-weeklong holiday was the longest in-country stay for 2023.

Crunching numbers like these grants insight into evolving traveller behaviours – and where and how we’ll travel this year.

Where South Africans will be travelling in 2024 – and local options

“Mauritius, Dubai, Phuket, Bali, Ras Al Khaimah, Zanzibar, Maldives, Paris, Venice, and Singapore rank among South African travellers’ top overseas spots for 2024,” says Antoinette Turner, General Manager for Flight Centre South Africa. “But the good news is that there are many fantastic regional and local alternatives if the overseas destination is just too much out of reach.”

The Indian Ocean Islands – the perfect alternative for the Caribbean

The Indian Ocean Islands, otherwise known as the Vanilla Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion, and Seychelles), make great palm trees and soft sand, fly and flop alternatives for the Caribbean.

The sun-kissed Mauritian shores make for an accessible stand-in to far-flung Caribbean Island getaways. A brief 4-hour flight from South Africa, Mauritius dazzles with palm-fringed beaches and aquamarine lagoons reminiscent of the Caribbean but without the hefty price tag.


“Mauritius remains a bestseller in the South African market,” says Turner. “And for good reason! There is something to appeal to every type of traveller. We were even surprised to see how many solo travellers enjoyed a trip to Mauritius in 2023, proving that it’s popular with solo travellers too, not just families and couples.”

Remember, choosing a holiday destination isn’t just about the exchange rate, adds Turner. “There are plenty of countries where you can stretch your rand further with affordable food, accommodation, and even a few luxuries thrown in. You can also save by heading to countries that don’t require you to get a visa, as the fees can really add up.”

Francophiles seeking tropical island adventures closer to home may prefer the French flair of nearby Reunion Island. Here, travellers can experience the island’s alluring blend of Creole culture, volcanic landscapes, and idyllic beachscapes.

Vibrant Mozambique as an attractive option instead of South America

While the markets of Ecuador may tempt with tapestries and handicrafts, visitors can discover similar cultural richness closer to home by crossing the border to vibrant Mozambique. By exploring Maputo on foot, travellers can soak up the city’s captivating blend of cultures reflected in its eclectic architecture, vibrant streetside commerce and tantalising cuisine.

Wandering Maputo’s lively streets, adventurous foodies can savour traditional street food like Badjia bean fritters, sweet coconut Matoritor candy, and fiery peri chicken. As the sun sets, relax at a rooftop bar overlooking Maputo’s downtown, with a cocktail in hand and the waters of Maputo Bay glimmering in the distance.

Beyond Mozambique’s cosmopolitan capital, stretch out on palm-fringed beaches or try your hand at kitesurfing before voyaging further north along the scenic coastline to Ibo Island. Here, a cultural melting pot awaits amid age-old ruins and coral stone buildings that reveal traces of Portuguese, Swahili, Indian, and Arab history. Reconnect with nature by kayaking remote coastal lakes or wandering mangrove forests, keeping an eye out for fishing eagles that rule the skies.

Whether it’s streetside culture, watersports, or remote island adventures you seek, Mozambique promises dynamic experiences reminiscent of South America yet far more accessible.

Chasing chill: South Africa’s cold weather havens

As temperatures continue rising worldwide, cool weather holidays gain appeal for 2024 jetsetters seeking crisp mountain air or snowcapped peaks.

According to the 2023 data, the northernmost destination global Flight Centre customers booked was Longyearbyen on the Norwegian island of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. Summer temperatures here only reach about seven °C.

The southernmost destination booked was Ushuaia in southern Argentina. Summer temperatures there reach a comparatively balmy 13 °C!

Adventurous travellers locally can escape the heat by journeying to Sutherland, South Africa’s coldest town, where clear winter nights reveal some of the best stargazing on the planet. Astro tourism is another key travel trend for 2024, so travel to Sutherland, and you can tick two trends off the bucket list!

Localise these 2024 travel trends

Community connection through world-class music festivals

As “gig-tripping” rises in popularity, many are booking getaways around major music events and concerts. Amadeus’ 2024 travel report revealed a significant uptick in destination visits coinciding with Taylor Swift performances. While overseas concerts may tempt, South Africans can tap into community vibe and talent right here at home. Each summer at the acclaimed Kirstenbosch Gardens, the hillsides come alive with revellers at the sellout Sunset Concerts – this year’s line-up boasts Matthew Mole and Mango Groove. Beyond the headliners, Cape Town and Johannesburg continue hosting intimate local gigs, with Joburg’s trendy Braamfontein the go-to hub for dynamic emerging musicians.

Wine estates promise farm-to-table feasts

As fine dining and libations entice leisure travellers around the globe, South Africa’s famed winelands provide the perfect backdrop for exceptional epicurean adventures. With an abundance of hyper-local seasonal produce, Stellenbosch’s 120+ vineyards enable guests to indulge in ultimate farm-to-table pairings. From the stellar Babylonstoren to atmospheric al fresco markets, options abound for leisurely feasting paired with stunning views.

World-class art escapades

Seeking inspiring art encounters, culture vultures are setting their sights on destinations boasting singular collections and creative showcases. Johannesburg shines as South Africa’s contemporary arts hub – home to exceptional galleries and mixed-media spaces. Creative epicentre Maboneng Precinct thrills with vibrant street art, markets, and integrated design.

Whether you set your sights on the shimmering shores of the Vanilla Islands, the cultural richness of Maputo, or the celestial escapes of Sutherland, adventure seekers have abundant options to explore this year’s travel trends – be it journeying across the globe or keeping it closer to home.

Contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert to make your 2024 travel dreams come true.