South Africa

South Africans’ favourite local and international travel destinations

Local travel is dominated by the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. There has also been strong growth in flights to smaller towns, while nearly a quarter of flights out of South Africa go to the United Kingdom. 

This was revealed in Discovery Bank’s SpendTrend24 report, compiled in collaboration with Visa. 

The report used data from Discovery Bank’s clients in South Africa and over 60 million Visa cards worldwide. It included 3 billion transactions. 

Discovery Bank CEO Hylton Kallner told a media briefing that the research aimed to understand where and how South Africans spend their money. 

Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment, South Africans proved resilient in 2023 compared to their global peers, with spending growing slightly. 

Apart from groceries and fuel, South Africans spend most of their money on travelling within the country and overseas. 

Data collected by Discovery Bank through its Vitality Travel platform showed that, unsurprisingly, domestic travel centres along South Africa’s Golden Triangle, with Cape Town being the top destination, followed by Johannesburg and then Durban. 

The trend of people moving from inland areas to cities along the Garden Route has also led to increased travel to East London, George, and Gqeberha. 

Kallner noted that demand for flights to George rose by around 20% in 2023 alone, making it the fourth most popular destination locally. 

It also experienced the largest increase in prices, with flights between George and Joburg rising 11% in 2023. 

South Africans’ favourite local travel destinations are shown in the graphic below. 

Discovery Bank clients’ favourite international destinations were the United Kingdom, Mauritius, Australia, the United States, and Italy. 

However, Kallner did note that the demand for these destinations can fluctuate greatly depending on global events. 

For example, France became the most popular destination within the European Union last year because it hosted the Rugby World Cup. Demand for flights to the country doubled during the tournament. 

Europe, including the United Kingdom, remains the most popular continent for South Africans to travel to, with 58% of flights heading to the continent. 

It is followed by Africa, with 15% of flights outside South Africa landing on the continent. Mauritius is the most popular destination in Africa, followed by Namibia and Zimbabwe. 

Mauritius saw a big increase in demand from South Africans going overseas, which Discovery Bank attributed to the rising supply of accommodation and flights. 

The favourite international destinations for South Africans are shown in the graphic below.


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