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Are we South Africans selling ourselves short on holidays?

Jan 15, 2018
Are we South Africans selling ourselves short on holidays?

New British Airways research has found South Africans owe it to themselves to take leave that they’re entitled to rather than fretting about work that will pile up or waiting for a time to go away that suits all their colleagues or clients.

A study by the airline in conjunction with its annual January sale has found that half of working respondents haven’t taken a two-week break in the last year because they either couldn’t get time off or were worried about the workload on their return.

While 65% felt their employer provides an adequate number of holidays each year, 60% ended the year with leave-days owing to them because they were saving the days for a holiday they didn’t take or their workload was too heavy to allow for leave.

What’s more, shoehorning in a week off left most breadwinners frustrated and unsettled, with 61% saying they either felt they hadn’t had a long enough break or that they hadn’t fully “switched off” from work. 73% said they thought about work or other commitments a lot while on holiday.

Those who’d been overseas wished they’d spent more time at the destination (66%) or didn’t get to see all they’d wanted to (35%), while 70% said they’d visited the same holiday destination up to five times.

Nick Hewer, former advisor to the UK production of The Apprentice said, “A happy workforce is key to having an efficient working environment and most importantly, a successful business. Employees need time off to unwind and relax in order to perform to the best they can.”

Sue Petrie, British Airways’ Commercial Manager for Southern Africa says, “Going on holiday is always exciting and we all enjoy the countdown to the day it starts, but judging from the results of this survey, many people are reluctant to venture somewhere new.

“The fact that many South African travellers repeatedly return to the same destination may partly be due to lack of time to plan holidays because of the pressures of work. But returning to the same destination is likely to make you feel as though your trip’s going by more quickly, whereas new holiday experiences will make you feel as though you’ve been away from your routine for longer.”

Petrie adds that the growing awareness of the need for work-life balance ties in to the rise of what’s being termed experientialism: the realisation that you get more long-term happiness from the memories of an amazing journey or experience than from material goods. “Buying a designer handbag may feel like it brings happiness – and of course there’s nothing wrong with buying goods – but spending the same amount on, say, a holiday in your bucket-list destination will be more rewarding in the long-term.”

For those looking to take advantage of the savings available, British Airways is on sale until midnight on 30th January and BA Holidays has compiled a list of the best holiday breaks. See www.britishairways.com.

British Airways Holidays Research – South Africa

Research methodology

British Airways commissioned Atomik Research to run a global online survey in 12 markets: the US, UK, South Africa, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, France, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong. Atomik targeted over 2,000 adults in each market, including 2,001 respondents in South Africa. The fieldwork took place between 20th December 2017 and 4th January 2018.

Holidays taken in 2017

  • On average, South Africans surveyed went on 3 holidays abroad in 2017. Young adults under the age of 35 went on the most holidays – averaging 3 within the year, compared to 2 for adults aged 35+, with men taking more than women on average (3 vs 2).
  • Across all the countries surveyed by BA, South African adults went on slightly fewer holidays abroad than average in 2017 – with 4 holidays taken by adults globally, peaking at 8 trips among survey respondents in Japan, 7 holidays in India and 6 in the UAE.
  • For 57% of South Africans, the duration of their longest holiday in 2017 was less than 10 days. A lucky 12% were able to get away for two weeks and 11% had a month or more away abroad.

South Africans not taking enough two-week holidays

  • The vast majority (77%) of South Africans did NOT have a two-week holiday in 2017.
  • Furthermore, 24% say their last two-week holiday was more than two years ago – including 5% which never have been away for this long.
  • Seven in ten (70%) South Africans only usually go abroad for less than two weeks.
  • It is no surprise to learn that 66% wish they had spent more time at the destination during their last main holiday abroad and 35% didn't get to see everything they wanted to see at the destination.
  • A quarter (25%) admit they wish they had taken more time off for their last holiday and 12% came back dreading returning to work.
  • After a one week holiday, 49% of South Africans feel like they haven't really had a long enough break.
  • 75% of adults have come back from a holiday and felt like they hadn't properly switched off.

Why aren’t South African employees taking more two-week holidays?

  • Although the majority (71%) of employed adults are allowed to take two week holidays by their company, a third (33%) haven’t been able to go on a two-week break as they just can’t get the time off work and 39% too worried about the work load piling up and coming back to a lot of work.
  • 18% are afraid to ask their workplace for that much time off.
  • 44% believe that two week holidays are frowned upon or discouraged by their workplace.
  • On average, employed adults in South Africa get 15 days paid holiday per year. This is less than the global average across all countries surveyed by BA (19 days), peaking at 25 days for employees in Germany.
  • 20% of South Africans only get 1-5 days paid holiday per year, however 33% get more than 20.
  • 65% feel that their company gives them an adequate amount of holiday days each year.
  • 73% of employed adults have been on holiday and thought about work/commitments a lot of the time.

Employees not making the most of their holiday allowance

  • 60% of employed adults have had left over holiday allowance at the end of the year.
  • The main reason is because work was too busy to take time off (51%). The other main reasons are because they were saving them up for a holiday they didn't end up taking (43%) and not being able to take holidays at certain times of the year (21%).
  • 15% feel guilty using all my holiday allowance.
  • 51% usually roll over around a week or more worth of holiday days (4-5 days+), 27% usually roll over 3-4 days and 16% roll over 1-2 days.
  • Often these rolled-over holiday days are wasted with 48% spending the day at home when they take them, 25% doing DIY work, 15% catching up with paperwork/life admin and 19% usually ending up doing work.
  • In fact, people are more likely to spend the days at home (48%) than go on holiday abroad (24%).
  • The majority (54%) have ended up losing holiday days completely by not using them in time – as many as 5 days or more (21%), 3-4 days (17%) or 1-2 days (17%).
  • The holiday year runs from Jan-Dec for 73% of employees and from Apr-Mar for 21%.
  • November and December are the months in the year when the South African workforce start to panic about using up holiday days to ensure they aren't lost (13%).
  • Adults in South Africa are more likely to have used their paid holiday allowance for family commitments (62%) than going abroad (42%). Meanwhile, 22% have used these days for life admin.
  • Over one in ten (11%) 25-34s have used their paid holiday days for a hangover.
  • Interestingly, one fifth (21%) of employees have used paid holiday days for mental wellbeing, including 19% of men and 23% of women.

Holiday trends – re-visiting destinations, new countries visited and desired holiday plans

  • The most popular types of holiday that South Africans would like to take in 2018 are: the Caribbean (40%), European city breaks (25%) and European beach holidays (23%).
  • 69% of adults have been back to the same holiday destination more than once – visiting their favourite destination 7 times on average.
  • Over-55s are the most likely to re-visit a favourite location (77%), visiting their favourite place 8 times on average.
  • 20% of South Africans didn’t visit any new countries in 2017. Adults in South Africa were most likely to visit just 1 new country during the year (39%), however 25% visited 2 new countries and 16% went to 3 or more.

Other stats

  • For the majority (53%) of adults, their last holiday was not a 2-week break.
  • 50% of holidaymakers in South Africa have taken a two-week holiday in the last year.
  • 50% of holidaymakers in South Africa usually take a two-week holiday each year and 32% say they normally have two or more.