Travelling and tourism in the SADC region are on the increase. According to theTravel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, the World Economic Forum suggests that Southern Africa is leading in attracting international tourists.
Over the years, there has been a surge in local and regional travelling. According to the SADC Secretariat, the industry contributed US$940 billion to the world economy in 2010. Among the innovations of boosting tourism in the region, a South African organization, Glamping Adventures, has introduced a concept of ‘retreats’ aimed at fostering the tourism sector and promoting cultural integration. The ‘retreats’ concept is when a group of travel enthusiasts and tourists go to various destinations as a group coordinated by Glamping Adventures and embark on adventure activities together.
In an interview, the organisation’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gugu Sithole told The Southern Times that the concept was initiated in May 2019 as a pilot project where 20 travellers from Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia had a retreat at Krugersdorp, West Rand, and Gauteng Province in South Africa.
“The pilot project was a success and we began officially in June where we had a group of 40 tourists from Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia and Australia on the glamping retreat. Our roving glamping retreats are hosted in iconic natural destinations that connect all our travellers in South Africa and the SADC region,” said Sithole.
“Whereas in traditional tourism, tourists book individually or with family members and friends, the concept of retreats in tourism is more fun. It gives tourists from different countries a chance to network both socially and professionally as well as learning each other’s cultures,” she said.
She said her organisation was working hand in hand with travel agencies in other countries within the SADC region, including Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia to coordinate the tourism activities.
“The adventures of our retreats come as a package and the tourists come already aware of the activities that they will do and the money they will spend on it. The idea is to ensure that the concept benefits the region and not only South Africa, as such we are working on other tourism agents in the regions. Plans are underway to launch our glamping retreats in Lesotho this September,” Sithole added.
In a separate interview, Glamping Adventures’ other co-founder, Davison Mudzingwa, said retreats and glamping in tourism were in line with the SADC Protocol on the Development of Tourism as they promote tourism as a vehicle for sustainable development.
“The Protocol on the Development of Tourism calls for member states to improve their quality of service and safety standards as a means of attracting tourists and investment, and with the initiative of retreats and glamping in tourism, our organisation is also implementing the protocol.
“The initiative also promotes preserving the region’s natural and cultural resources which is also supported by the protocol,” said Mudzingwa.
“We are glad to be at the pioneering stage of glamping in Africa and we believe our concept of travelling to various regional destinations will excite more people to travel and enjoy attractions in the region,” he said.
He explained that glamping is basically camping with luxurious provisions and amenities – a concept that is beginning to gain traction in Africa. Glamping Adventures is a start-up initiative occupying the niche of trendy travellers on a budget. Modelled on a concept of organising retreats in different parts of Southern Africa and the region, the company believes this model will play a part in popularising travel and tourism.