When will African Tourism Boards start paying attention to Budget Travelers?

10:30 am


Let's talk a bit about budget travel.

I started Travel Mzantsi when I wanted to travel but I couldn't afford the readily available options that were  always advertised.
As a young professional, I loved my job but I love taking myself away and just chasing the sunset for a weekend. I loved planning holidays with my friends, just so that we can go away and do something different and out of the norm for a change.

When my mom heard about Sho'tLeft a few years ago, she was excited. I remember how she came home to tell me that there is finally an easier way to travel. A budget way to travel South Africa and we were excited. But when I look at the website today, I can't afford majority of the options on the Sho'tLeft page. Then I wondered what is this "Budget" they speak of?

If you visit the Sho'tLeft page, most of the accommodation is not close to being budget, I am led to believe that the accommodation establishments that have their places on Sho'tLeft are those that can actually afford to advertise.
But what about those that can't afford to advertise? 
And unfortunately should you look for an option online, you might struggle to find something on the first page of Google, you have to look beyond the first page and you might just dig up a true budget establishment gem.

The budget traveler market is one that I believe nobody can be bothered to promote because the people don't have too much money therefore we can conclude that they're broke.
Granted we don't have a lot of money, but to us we cannot justify paying US$100 a night for a bed when there's an option for a backpackers for US$10 - $15 a night. Yes, it's only a bed and I will share a room with 5 or 7 other people (some snoring, passing gas, making funny noises, talking in their sleep or some just uncultured might even go in and start touching each other inappropriately). But we are okay with this, we understand that when you have limited time to travel, you will spend most of it out and about exploring your chosen destination and not in your bed. We also know very well that when you travel, you leave all your luxuries at home and just make-do with whatever the adventure throws at you.

What most tourism boards across Africa need to understand is this: If I can pay $12 a night for a bed at a backpackers, that means I have more money for the different activities available. That means I have more money to spend on buying gifts at the local craft market for my family and friends. So yes, my broke self can still make a difference in your economy without feeling like a have to sell a limb to travel.

As a travel blogger, it's harder for me to get clients because I focus on budget travel. For them, the budget market is not their target market.
So here's something I want to share with you then, majority of travelers from all over the world that I have met in the past 4 months while traveling Africa have been budget travelers. They have stayed at backpackers or lodges. Those that go on overlanding trips across Africa also stay at budget establishments, mostly pitching tents at the camping area of a budget establishment. Groups that pay tour companies that take them to different places mostly stay at budget establishments.
 
So you cannot tell me there is no money where budget travel is concerned.
The fact that nobody will tell you is this, when people hear the word "Backpackers" it automatically means that sharing a dorm room with strangers. Here's a fun fact - All Backpackers Establishments that I have stayed at or worked with have single and double rooms, for those people that require a bit more privacy. You will pay just over double of a bed in a dorm but it's worth it as well.


I have been fortunate enough to travel and stay at 4 and 5 star accommodation establishments, I personally do not like it as I cannot meet people I relate to there. I find everyone is so serious and go on about their day without care of what is around them. Perhaps because I enjoy meeting fellow travelers and learning more about their journey and where they're from - Good luck finding someone willing to share this with you over a beer at the bar of a 5 star hotel.

My question to the different tourism boards is this, when are we going to start promoting Africa to African budget travelers? What will it take for you guys to take these establishments and budget options seriously as they also attract a lot of travelers from all over the world. 
Budget Establishments and service providers, How would you propose that we work together and promote your establishments and services to not only African budget travelers but to the world as well?

x0x0
#TheSoloWanderer

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