It’s challenging enough to brand a country, let alone an entire continent, but that’s exactly what Africa has in mind. When news of the Ebola crisis spread across the globe, that was the single biggest factor affecting tourism on the continent, despite some countries in Europe being closer to where the actual outbreak occurred. During a private press conference in May at INDABA, Africa’s largest travel trade show, the Minister of Tourism for South Africa, the Honourable Derek Hanekom, assured journalists that tourism is back on the rise, with a goal of reaching the 130 million mark by 2030.
Now the challenge lies in uniting a continent, heralding the catchphrase “We are All African.” With the blend of authentic cultural experiences, a favorable exchange rate, and an influx of new hotels and tours, there’s plenty of positivity on the horizon when it comes to tourism in Africa.
After The Royal Livingstone left Sun International’s upscale SunLux Collection, the brand relaunched with the addition of the five-star The Boardwalk in Port Elizabeth near South Africa’s third largest park, Addo Elephant Park. In April, Sun International will unveil its first new development in 15 years, Time Square Pretoria. The complex will be home to a five-star hotel and South Africa’s second-largest casino, in addition to cuisine by Food Network star Guy Fieri.
Last year, water-geared safari Belmond Eagle Island Lodge in Botswana reopened with a completely revamped look featuring 12 deluxe tented rooms with plunge pools and views of the Okavango Delta. Now the lodge is enhancing its safari offerings with a new horse and helicopter tour taking travelers on a 2-part journey that starts in the sky at dawn in an open-sided helicopter, catching daily migrations of zebra and giraffes, before hitting the ground on horseback alongside herds of buffalo and elephant.
If this isn’t close enough to Africa’s wildlife, book your clients on one of Globus’ four new Small Group Discovery tours launching in 2017. The 10- to 15-day safaris feature cooking classes with chefs in Cape Town, traditional dancing with the Maasai tribe, and one-on-one encounters with elephants and chimpanzees in safe sanctuaries. Combine two countries on the 15-day East African Kenya & Tanzania: The Safari Experience tour from Nairobi to Arusha, scouting for black rhinos in Ngorongoro Crater and visiting a local family’s home near Lake Manyara to learn about the Iraqw culture. Rates start at $5,480 pp.
Your clients can do more than safari on a stay in South Africa. Recommend one of the highlights of South African Airways Vacations’ 2017 collection—expanded to over 70 packages—like the 11-day Wine and Safari experience. After a 3-night stay in Cape Town exploring the Cape Peninsula and Cape of Good Hope, it’s off to Stellenbosch for a private Winelands tour sleeping in a traditional Cape Dutch estate, before two days of lodge living safari-style in Kruger National Park. Air-inclusive rates from New York’s JFK or Washington, DC’s Dulles start at $3,699 pp.
In terms of visa updates, on July 1, Uganda launched a new online visa application program (visas.immigration.go.ug), making it easier than ever to plan a visit to the home of more than half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. In Kenya, meanwhile, maximum national park fees have been reduced from $90 to $60 per day, with visa fees waived for travelers under 16.
All About Asia
The Far East has never been hotter, with travelers looking for options beyond the traditional, although catching a sunset over the Temple of Angkor Wat never loses its appeal. According to a Pacific Asia Travel Association report, international arrivals were up this year by 8.4 million, with China leading the pack in terms of growth,
followed by Japan, Thailand and the Republic of Korea.
It’s no surprise then that tour operators are honing in on these countries, with a slew of new tours debuting next year. Cosmos, part of the Globus family of brands, is introducing Asia tours for the first time in 2017, with itineraries in China, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. One of the new options includes the 8-day Classic Japan: The Golden Route, which winds its way around the country’s landmark temples and shrines from Tokyo to Kyoto, pausing for panoramic cable car views of the country’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji. Rates from $3,019 pp.
Not only is land tourism growing, Asia’s cruise industry is also on the rise, growing 51 percent with nearly 3.2 million ocean cruise passengers cruising the waters in 2016.
This year, 60 ocean liners cruised in Asia on a total of 1,560 scheduled sailings across
17 countries, with Japan being the most in demand.
Keep an eye out for Norwegian’s newest ship to debut in the summer, the 3,900-passenger Norwegian Joy, exclusively cruising in China with homeports in Shanghai and Tianjin (Beijing). Norwegian will also be offering five new Asia itineraries for 2017 on Norwegian Star, including the 14-day Southeast Asia from Hong Kong cruise. Rates from $1,594 pp dbl.
River cruising is also still a hot ticket item in Asia, and French line CroisiEurope is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the addition of four new ships in 2017, including the colonial-style RV Indochine II. The 30-cabin ship will join the brand’s four other vessels on the Mekong, sailing in Cambodia between Siem Reap and Ho-Chi-Minh.
Cox & Kings is launching more than 20 new itineraries and journeys for its 2017-2018 season, including the 11-day From Golden Temple of Amritsar to Foothills of Himalayas; the 10-day South Korea: Discovering Beyond Seoul; and the 16-day Chad: Africa’s Secret Safari.
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