Solo travel has been on the rise on a global scale post-pandemic, according to UK-based adventure tour operator, Explore.
The company analysed 24 months of global Google data to find out which places solo travellers were most interested in, with African destinations seeing a sharp rise in solo travel searches.
“It seems that every generation is feeling the draw of independent travel. At Explore, we’ve seen a real surge in solo travellers joining our small group trips, with solo travellers usually making up around half of our average tour group. Whilst on TikTok, videos tagged with #solotravel have garnered over 3.7 billion views; with single travellers sharing their escapades worldwide,” the company said.
The top-five destinations for solo travel in Africa are as follows:
Solo travellers love Cape Town
Suzanne Benadie, Sales and Marketing Director of Sense of Africa, told Tourism Update that the African DMC had noticed a recovery to pre-COVID numbers for solo travel and some increases in group series departures in 2023 and 2024.
She said many of the solo travel groups originated from Ireland and their favourite destination was Cape Town and the Winelands area.
Corné Alberts, Group Marketing Manager at ANEW Hotels & Resorts agreed that solo travellers were on the rise.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in solo travellers, specifically digital nomads. These travellers combine remote work and travel by utilising technology to perform their job from various global locations. This lifestyle offers flexibility to explore new places while staying connected professionally. Although not a major revenue driver at all of our properties, our hotels are in key locations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and KwaZulu Natal have seen a definite increase in solo travellers, surpassing pre-COVID figures,” Alberts told Tourism Update.
She added that ANEW Hotel Green Point was one of the most popular hotels for these travellers.
“The location of the hotel, adjacent to the DHL stadium and Green Point Urban Park, makes it attractive to solo travellers as it allows easy access to all of Cape Town’s most popular sites and attractions. Cape Town has also recently been announced as the greatest city in the world by The Telegraph in the UK and I firmly believe this has strongly influenced the rise of the digital nomad at ANEW Hotel Green Point.”
In addition, the Cape Town Central City Improvement District, a not-for-profit private-public company, works closely with Cape Town’s local government, providing complimentary services to make the city centre clean and safe, and a desirable place to live, work, visit and do business.
Trends, duration and expenditure
Benadie noted that the current solo travel trend was to book a departure with like-minded travellers.
“Often this is in an older age group than we might expect, namely 60 and older. Guests enjoy activities, excursions and meals to be included, where they can socialise together.”
Additionally, Sense of Africa’s solo groups operate mainly in the higher four-star level of accommodation and services
With regard to duration of stay, Nicola Booth, Market Manager for Switzerland, Austria and Germany at Sense of Africa, said in the German market, the company had a very successful solo tour that spent seven nights in Cape Town and the Garden Route.
Alberts noted that digital nomads tended to book for more than three days, giving themselves time to explore their surroundings and using the hotel as a home base.
“Strong WiFi connectivity, back-up power supply, and dedicated workstations are some of the facilities and amenities they value during their stays.”
Although it is difficult to determine the exact number, Alberts added that digital nomads tended to spend anything from R3 000-R5 000 (€240-€144) per traveller per stay.
“A fun fact about solo traveller digital nomads is that they often develop strong adaptability skills, embracing spontaneity and diverse cultural experiences while navigating their unique blend of work and adventure,” said Alberts.
Benadie concluded that the key to operating solo tours was creating a value-for-money tour, even though this often meant needing to secure single rooms.
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