Botswana and India have been pinpointed as two destinations attracting increased interest from the Australian market with luxury travel company, Abercrombie & Kent.
According to Debra Fox, Managing Director for Tour Operations (Outbound), Australia & New Zealand, and Michelle Mickan, Head of Marketing in Australia, the Middle East, Africa and Japan are thriving.
Across A&K’s full portfolio, high-nett-worth individuals are turning their focus on digging deeper into a country, or a region, rather than intensive, multi-country journeys.
“We’re seeing more time in regional areas whilst hero locations such as Rome and Venice are still being included, they are no longer the main drawcard,” Fox says. An example given was Piedmont in Italy, Barolo and Puglia.
The Middle East continues to draw massive demand, fuelled by Egypt and the “halo” countries of Jordan, Morocco and Israel.
Speaking exclusively with LATTE this week, Fox and Mickan said the Middle East is still holding as number one in Australia, and in every market of A&K’s globally.
Egypt is leading the charge but the spotlight has been cast also on neighbouring destinations. Last December, A&K added 12 extra departures in Egypt, and a further 14 in February, which were selling out just as quickly as they were put on.
“There’s an insatiable appetite for the Middle East,” Fox said.
“Egypt has outperformed our expectations, and our expectations were quite high.”
A&K has over 400 staff on the ground in Egypt, including its own expert local guides, with the appeal of the destination linked to the uncovering of more and more ancient sites. In May 2023, 250 mummies dating back 2,500 years were discovered at the necropolis of Saqqara, near Cairo.
Mickan says: “People are falling in love with the classic A&K adventure-style way of exploring Egypt in luxury.”
Similarly in the halo region, Israel’s food scene is generating interest from travellers.
Africa is also highly sought as a region. The way business is currently trending for the mother country if maintained, will likely result in a record from Australia.
“Demand is just incredible,” says Mickan. Kenya and Tanzania are in the front seat driving business, with Botswana “starting to hold its own” and has the strong potential to overtake the perennial favourites. South Africa also continues to hold its own with Aussie travellers.
In Namibia, A&K has acquired two lodges under the Sanctuary Lodges business. The wraps came off the fully renovated Elephant Lodge in April, while the second lodge is planned for extensive refurbishment in the near future.
Namibia is also rising in interest, particularly with third- or fourth-time visitors to Africa.
Mickan said that over the last four to five months, India has also witnessed a strong rebound, to the extent of nudging demand levels for the Middle East and Africa. Bookings are still being received for 2023, in addition to an early demand for 2024.
“People are well and truly planning.”
“Every indicator is showing that India is looking very, very positive for late 2023 and into 2024. Sri Lanka is also beginning to bubble,” she said.
In Asia, and specifically Japan, A&K is witnessing more movement beyond the favoured Cherry Blossom season, with new tour departures in Autumn for the changing colours of leaves.
“Cherry blossom was always the driver whereas now what we’re seeing is people looking at it as a year-round destination,” Fox said.
A&K noted that demand for South America hasn’t returned to pre-COVID levels, yet, with domestic issues on a political front in Argentina and Brazil, the temporary closure of Macchu Picchu and airlift from Australia creating challenges.