It’s that time of the year again, the summer holidays are fast approaching and with travel restrictions finally eased across the globe, wanderlust is in the air.
But, this year, as people start to think about and plan their summer vacation, we can expect to see a new growing trend in vacation destinations among the younger generation – nature-based tourism and places such as the Kruger National Park.
As the name highlights, nature-based tourism centres around travel within outdoor environments or around places of natural beauty and usually involves participating in adventurous activities such as mountain climbing or more relaxing activities like hiking, stargazing and taking wildlife tours. This kind of travel has become more popular in recent years as it offers young people an escape from busy cityscapes and the constant connected buzz of everyday life. Additionally, research suggests that younger people are interested in animal activities, but only those that offer little interaction with the animals themselves – encounters that leave animals to enjoy their natural surroundings without interference from humans.
These trends are likely to continue to grow for the foreseeable future as travellers are craving wide open spaces and are looking for holiday trips that are closer to home due to economic constraints, and as young people shift towards adopting more sustainable lifestyles.
“It should really come as no surprise that the most socially and environmentally conscious generations of younger tourists, millennials and Gen Zers, are increasingly gravitating towards nature travel which presents them with a way to positively interact with the world around them while also gaining that sense of peace, relaxation, and the chance to discover new experiences that we all look for from a vacation away,” says Sarah Watson of Kruger Gate Hotel. “As such, they are also looking for accommodation providers that tie into this way of life and Kruger National Park accommodation that ensures that they are holidaying in a more sustainable way”.
Travel destinations like the Kruger Gate Hotel, situated just 100 metres from the entrance of the enchanting Kruger National Park, are a nature-loving tourist’s dream destination as they offer travellers a haven away from home (and most importantly away from the crowds), nestled in the midst of some of South Africa, and the world’s, most beautiful natural assets. From the country’s iconic wildlife, such as the Big Five, majestic rivers and waterfalls, and vast forest canopies to unique outdoor experiences, these nature-based destinations present young travellers with tremendous value.
There are a number of benefits attached to nature-based tourism, including environmental, economic, social and even health-related benefits for those individuals who participate in this form of travel. In fact, it can play a big role in driving funding and support for the conservation and restoration of these vast areas of wilderness and natural beauty, empower the communities which surround them by contributing to employment and the growth of local economies, and enable the protection of local wildlife. Additionally, spending time in nature can greatly reduce stress and anxiety, improving both mental and physical wellbeing.
“Nature-based travel destinations don’t only offer tourists the opportunity to connect with the wonder of the world around them and experience it in its most raw and relatively untouched-by-the-world state, they can also be a powerful tool in engaging young tourists – who often previously opted for travel to tropical beaches and party hotspots – in helping to ensure the resilience and sustainability of local communities and domestic tourism,” adds Watson.
According to a recent report on the future of nature-based tourism, there is significant growth in demand for sustainable tourism products and services as young travellers pursue experiences that enable them to engage in local cultures, foods and environments and are increasingly interested in seeing better benefits for local communities.
Watson concludes: “At Kruger Gate Hotel, situated right by one of the world’s best reserves, we are dedicated to ensuring that guests of our hotel pose little to no harm to the natural environment surrounding us and the Kruger National Park animals who visit the watering hole outside our hotel. And we will continue to play our part in ensuring a better and more sustainable future for the Park through the Kruger National Park activities that we offer as well as by ensuring that as a business, we are sustainable as possible in everything that we do”.