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Why This Bucket List Country Is Trending With U.S. Travelers This Year 

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Travel is back with a vengeance in 2023, and many new trends have emerged as to where, when, how, and why people are booking certain trips.

One shift that is happening is the move towards experience-based travel, with many people reporting that they are more interested in collecting unique experiences from their holidays, as opposed to material things. 

_couple of men and women at The Rock viewpoint in Cape Town over Campsbay, view over Camps Bay with fog over the ocean copy

All around the world, more people are finally taking that bucket list trip this year after having put it off previously due to the pandemic and the worldwide shutdown that followed. While many epic destinations remain popular with a wide range of travelers, there are some that are emerging as hotspots with specific international visitors. 

One country that is seeing an increase in interest from American travelers is South Africa, with visitors from the U.S. making up a large percentage of the country’s international arrivals in recent months.

The beautiful city of Cape Town, with its gorgeous mountains white sand beaches and clear blue water copy

According to the data, the bookings do not show any indication of slowing down either, and the summer season of November to March is set to be a big year for South Africa’s tourism industry. 

In 2022 around 263,000 Americans visited South Africa, which is an increase of 220% from the previous year. The 2022 figure is 70% of its pre-pandemic numbers, meaning Americans are coming back to experience South Africa this year. 

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One big reason for the increased visits from Americans to South Africa right now is the increased routes from U.S. airports. In fact, recent figures indicate that an increase of 45% more capacity from the U.S. to South Africa, with Delta and United routes being a major constructer. State flag carrier South Africa Airlines has been around since the 2930’s but technology and reach have not really been seen from them due to many factors, leaving other airlines to pick up the majority of passengers interested in direct flights from the U.S. to South Africa. That being said South African Airways does run a Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Accra (ACC) flight as well as New York City (JFK) – Johannesburg (JNB).

Increased Flights 

One big reason for more American visitors to South Africa right now is the increased routes from U.S. airports. In fact, recent figures indicate an increase of 45% more capacity from the U.S. to South Africa, with Delta and United routes being major contributors.

State flag carrier South Africa Airlines has been around since the 1930s but advances in both technology and reach have not really been seen from them due to many factors, leaving other airlines to pick up the majority of passengers interested in direct flights from the U.S. to South Africa.

That being said, South African Airways does run a Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Accra (ACC) flight as well as New York City (JFK) – Johannesburg (JNB). 

African bush elephant walking along safari tour in Kruger National park, South Africa

Experience Based Travel 

One of the biggest trends in post-pandemic travel is related to how people decide to spend their time, with an emphasis being placed on culturally immersive, experience-based trips.

Perhaps after the worldwide pause that forced everyone to stop and reevaluate what they prioritize, it seems that many have chosen to spend their time and money on rich experiences, seeking once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to get up close and personal with different environments, people, and cultures. 

And where better to do that than a county such as South Africa? From watching the surfers, sharks, whales, and penguins along the coast to checking out the view from Table Mountain, there is no end of ways to take in the environment. Not to mention endless safari options all around the country.

South Africa offers multiple places to spend some time among the famed big 5 of the continent, with fantastic chances to witness the majestic lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and African buffalo. 

Giraffe in Kruger national park, South Africa

Food and Wine 

Another trend that is taking off in the travel world is culinary travel, and South Africa fits in perfectly with this growing market.

Research shows that the majority of travelers are interested in trying new foods when they travel, especially local foods that differ from the cuisines of their home country. 

Vineyards in Constantia near Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa’s food scene is a mixture of many cultures, including Dutch, Indian, French, and Malaysian. The diet is meat heavy, with the traditional braai dinner being a popular choice for travelers to experience. 

When talking about South Africa’s culinary impact, it’s impossible not to mention the country’s wine scene. Although relatively new to the international market, South Africa actually has over 300 years of winemaking in its history. Many have coined the country’s growing wine industry as bridging the gap between the old and new worlds of winemaking.

ariel view of cape town south africa

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.