Ricochet News

South Africa set for a bumper festive season: Cheapflights

Dec 15, 2016
South Africa set for a bumper festive season: Cheapflights

Surges in domestic and international travel over the coming weeks

  • Cape Town once again to top the tables for domestic and international arrivals.
  • Anticipated 100 % increase in inbound visitors arriving to spend Christmas in South Africa.
  • Some deals still available: cheapest day to fly for domestic travel is Wednesday 21 December, and for international travel Thursday 29 December.

Despite a volatile year, and one beset by issues for the tourism industry, this festive season looks set to be a bumper one for South Africa. According to data from global flight and travel search platform, Cheapflights, South Africa can expect a 100% increase in foreign tourists arriving on its shores compared to last year, as well as a huge amount of domestic travel within the country as locals go on holiday, or make their way home to see families.

Andrew Shelton, Managing Director of Cheapflights says: “All the usual coastal destinations, such as Cape Town and Durban, will be busy, as can be expected, with both locals and visitors. Despite the challenging economic conditions this year, our data shows that South Africans are keener than ever to travel, and overseas tourists are still flocking here, where the Rand still offers good bang for their buck.”


South Africa continues to be an overwhelmingly popular destination for foreign visitors, and this festive season looks to be better than ever. Cheapflightsdata shows a 100% increase in searches from foreign visitors to the country over the December season, compared to the same period in 2015.

The country continues to be a destination of choice for the Brits, who make up the most searches for travel to South Africa over this time, increasing 47% compared to last year. Travellers from other European countries also love the Rainbow Nation, with the largest portion of the searches coming from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and other countries experiencing chilly winters. 

The data also shows how the country’s continued – and growing - popularity is likely to result in larger numbers of foreign visitors this summer. Searches from travellers in Germany have grown 187% compared to last year and an impressive 226% from Swiss tourists, compared to the same period in 2015.

“We can also see from the searches on our site that South Africa can expect an influx of international visitors arriving just before Christmas, with the busiest inbound flights into the country being 22 and 23 December. This points to many from the Northern Hemisphere wanting to escape the cold for sunnier climes, as well as expats coming home to see their families,” explained Shelton.


As expected, Cape Town can expect to be the busiest destination, with 43% of domestic travellers and 48% of foreign visitors searching for flights to the Mother City; and more than double the amount of searches than any other local destination. This is closely followed by Johannesburg and Durban, as South Africans travel to the coast and to visit families back home in the City of Gold.


The airports will be jam-packed this weekend as many South Africans start their holidays with the Public Holiday on Friday. Based on the number of flights searched for, there will be a second big surge just before Christmas, as travellers head home after the last working day before Christmas, Friday 23 December (with more than double the amount of flights searched for, compared to the previous day).

As can be expected, these days are the most expensive days to travel, with the few remaining flights available commanding premium prices.

“For those still wanting to book last minute travel within South Africa there are still a few deals to be found, especially on the days which are (relatively) quiet. Our data shows that the cheapest days to travel between now and the end of the year are 21 and 31 December, so if anyone is still wanting to book flights, those days are your best bet,” continued Shelton.

To illustrate, the average one-way fare anywhere in South Africa on 21 December is currently R4 069, whereas flying to same destination on one of the busiest days, 23 December, will set travellers back R4 645.


South Africans are also travelling overseas in their droves, with London ranking third overall as most popular destination for travel over the Christmas season (after domestic destinations, Cape Town and Durban).

“This points to many South Africans taking advantage of the slightly weaker Pound to travel to the UK, which is always one of most popular destinations. The second most popular destinations for South Africans is Bangkok – again which points to the popularity of countries which give value for money to the Rand,” ends Shelton.

Again, there are still some last minute travel deals to be found for travelling overseas this season. For those still wanting to book a trip overseas between now and the end of the year, the cheapest days to travel will be 28 and 29 December. One these days, average international fares are around R15 700, whereas average international fares this weekend are around R18 200.

Cheapflights.co.za has scoured the best local deals available for December, which can be found, along with hints, tips and travel hacks on their website: https://www.cheapflights.co.za/hot-travel-deals/


It may not seem like the most cheerful way to spend Christmas, but there are some benefits for booking travel on Christmas Day itself. Because it’s one of the least popular days to travel over the festive season, the airports are often empty (meaning less queues at security and immigration) and great deals can often be found. For more tips on Christmas travel, see : https://www.cheapflights.co.uk/news/top-ten-tips-for-surviving-festive-season-travel/.

Airports are also a great place to do some last minute Christmas shopping – with most airports having a great selections of shops to get anything from Paul Smith tops, perfumes sunglasses and accessories, to giant Toblerones and novelty bottles of booze in specialty gift packs. For more tips on last minute airport gifts, visit: https://www.cheapflights.co.uk/news/7-last-minute-christmas-gifts-can-buy-airport/