Youth, Urban, Africa – Travel trends for 2014 for Capetown

Travel is number two on Facebook’s most shared posts list globally just after “adding a relationship, getting married or engaged” and it would seem that youth are driving a worldwide travel boom


Travel is number two on Facebook’s most shared posts list globally just after “adding a relationship, getting married or engaged” and it would seem that youth are driving a worldwide travel boom that continues to shape accommodation and booking trends.

According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/2014, youth travel is said to be expanding at 9% per annum globally compared with just 2% for the general population.


In a recent survey by Cape Town Tourism, it was found that backpackers outperformed every other type of accommodation for the month of January 2014, up 12.1% for the month of January 2014 compared to January 2013. The next most successful accommodation type was self-catering and then guest houses.

Howard Richman, owner of Cape Town backpackers lodge, The Green Elephant, has noted an increase in youth travel and bookings over the last two years and says the recent summer has been particularly busy. Richman notes that youth stay longer than other guests; typically 2-4 weeks, often starting in Cape Town then touring the country and returning to Cape Town for the last leg of their travels. Nearly all of The Green Elephant’s bookings are taken online; through their own site and via sites like Hostelworld. References on Tripadvisor also assist with bookings.

Adventure tour company, Earthstompers takes Cape Town visitors on the Garden Route and owner Hendrik Human also says that he is seeing an upward trend, with youth travel increasing by as much as 50% since 2010. Youth are generally more spontaneous and Human says that up to 40% of his short lead bookings are from the youth market. He does however note that the definition of youth is getting wider; “It’s not about age anymore but rather the type of travel – travel that is an experience of local life, people, the cultural atmosphere and adventure.” Human also receives 49% of his direct bookings online.

Cape Town Tourism’s stand at travel show ITB this year also saw a lot of students asking about internship opportunities in the city.

Director General of the World Youth, Student and Educational Travel Confederation’s (WYSE), David Chapman notes that; “The key reasons for this (youth sector) growth are that today’s youth has more money to spend on travel, is travelling more often and to more distant countries than in the past. Traditional backpackers are declining while ‘flashpackers’ – hi-tech, socially connected young travellers – are becoming a new part of the market.” Source: ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/2014

The ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/2014 also notes that the Asian youth traveller is different to their generational predecessors; well-off and better educated, about 10% of Chinese travellers are youth travellers who are socially-oriented and interested in personal experiences.


Perhaps linked to youth travel, urban travel is also on the increase. The ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/ 2014 reported that “it is indeed the age of the urban tourist. Since 2009, city trips have increased by 47%. In contrast, the largest segment, sun and beach holidays grew by 12% while countryside trips declined by 10%.”

Attending ITB Berlin 2014, Nils Heckscher, owner of Not just Hotels, says; “Urban tourism and authentic experiences is definitely a trend. I attended the launch of Precious Time, a campaign by UNWTO and Madrid supporting this movement with an urban tourism call to action that aims to create a collaborative model to enhance Private Public Partnership.”

The UNWTO’s latest preliminary figures confirm that Africa is now among the fastest-growing in the world in terms of tourist arrivals. According to figures from IPK International’s World Travel Monitor, outbound travel in the Africa/Middle East region has grown in the 6-9% range annually, outpacing growth in the rest of the world. The largest source markets are Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt and the top destination within the continent is South Africa.

In 2012 the Three Cities Alliance agreement was signed between Cape Town Tourism, Durban Tourism and Joburg Tourism, which aims to profile South Africa’s urban offering and to encourage tourism growth to the country. This relationship is still going strong and we are collaborating on how to continue to build the profile of our cities.

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy concludes; “With youth travel on the rise and most of these travellers using their mobile devices as a method of planning and booking their trips, the industry should be ready to receive and interact with this sector. We are most definitely gearing up for this shift with two of the Lonely Planet’s top three best-value hotels in the world situated in South Africa and most establishments on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The Backpack in Cape Town recently took top spot in the Lonely Planet’s list of Best-Value Hotels in the World in 2014.”

About the author

Avatar of Linda Hohnholz

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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