Like an elastic band stretched to breaking point by pandemic-related restrictions, enthusiastic travellers have been unleashed once more across the planet with a resounding twang – or whatever onomatopoeia better suits this metaphor. To stretch (ahem) said metaphor further, however, they’re finding they might not really get all that far, with flight ticket prices almost a third higher than pre-pandemic, owing to a perfect storm of soaring demand, staff shortages and rising fuel costs. As South Africans, we’re also at the mercy of a ruthless exchange rate, watching in horror as the price of a bagel in New York or a baguette in Paris rose by 18 per cent over the past year.
While there’s some optimism for the currency, the situation isn’t likely to improve too much too soon, which is just one reason it makes sense to travel locally. Another is that we have gobsmackingly vast, beautiful, and quiet spaces such as the Kalahari on our doorsteps. Get a taste of the magic on page 4. Of course, this wouldn’t be a travel publication without a healthy dose of aspiration, which is why we explore a sport on the opposite end of the decibel spectrum – Formula 1 – on page 8, finding out just how much it’ll cost to chase the Grand Prix around the globe. If you prefer your races a little slower and more tropical, the inaugural Seychelles Nature Trail aims to introduce visitors to a different side of the island nation. Check it out on page 13. Of course, a big chunk of the surging travel demand is due to the rat race, with business travel back on the agenda in a big way – dive into this and other trends on page 15.
Rising travel costs have also seen a rise in the popularity of all-inclusive vacations, which we unpack on page 20. And speaking of business, tourism remains a crucial element of South Africa’s economy and employment prospects, which is why it needs to be rebuilt quickly and inclusively, as we find out on page 18. Hopefully, with a bit of work, some planning, and a bit of luck, we can make all our travel dreams, local and international, come true this year. Twang!