If you flew for leisure within the region in the just ended holiday season and cursed your airline of choice for the extortionist fares, you could be part of the reason for the high fares.
As in every sector of the economy, the laws of demand and supply keep the wheels of the travel industry moving.
I am sure there are those who are still wondering whether the expensive flights and crowded hotels were worth the money spent after all. To make it even more regrettable, some domestic airline services specifically in Kenya were chaotic and unreliable.
As if your end of year spending woes are not over and done with, you can expect your favourite airline to start making irresistible return ticket offers to some renowned shopping destinations.
To sweeten the deal, some of these offers will be packaged with very decent accommodation, meals and even airport transfers. These deals normally come hot on the heels of a season of full flights, exorbitantly high fares and lack of accommodation. It’s mind boggling what a huge difference a few weeks can make.
You see, the travel industry ecosystem works in a most interesting manner. Apart from the end of the year holiday rush, the other peak travel season is in summer (in specific reference to East Africa’s tourist source countries), which starts in June and declines in September.
Any travel service provider in the industry who does not make a killing during the peak seasons is left scrambling for scraps.
As all industry players — airlines, hotels and other hospitality service providers — realise that demand is diminishing, they go all out to ensure that revenue generation is assured. While the lean fat they tucked away at peak demand counts, the common principle here is that it is better to make a dollar on a flight seat or a hotel bed rather than have it go unoccupied.
This scenario makes it attractive for those not caught up in the peak holiday travel hype to find amazing travel offers at rock bottom prices during the off-peak season.
For the travellers who maintain a tight grip on their purse strings, be on the lookout for deals as you are guaranteed some pretty amazing offers over the next couple of months.
So what is already on offer at the moment for off-peak travellers to consider?
Within the region, one can expect that room rates are likely to drop as occupancy falls at most of the otherwise expensive resorts and hotels.
A word of caution, though; When it comes to over-the-counter rates, most airlines and hotels will try to maintain a façade of being busy or still under heavy occupancy.
It would be worthwhile to keep in touch with your preferred tour operator as they will be awash with interesting packages that will include discounted flights, accommodation and tours.
While a majority of regional travellers have made holiday travel synonymous with the beach experience, it is important to note that there is plenty more to explore in beach destinations like Pemba, Lamu and Watamu beyond the usual Mombasa, Zanzibar and Diani (Kenya’s South Coast) and at very affordable rates.
The Lamu Art Festival is a must attend for me this February coupled with bird watching in Nyungwe Forest.
If you are looking to travel outside the region, Johannesburg awaits with the annual Jo’burg Shopping Festival running until the end of January 2017. An extension of your trip to Cape Town, renowned for its wines and culinary delights coupled with the Cape Town Motorshow 2017 and Cape Town 10s 2017 would make the travel experience complete with fun, food and sport to accompany the shopping.
The Dubai Shopping Festival 2017 kicked off right after Christmas and will roll on to the end of January. The shopping and holiday experience is guaranteed to be worth every penny. Watch out too for the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival 2017 on February 22-24.
You can expect affordable airfares lumped with visa offers and accommodation from airlines. Perhaps a chance to sample some of the five star airlines from that region.
Those considering Europe and Northern Hemisphere destinations may have to just wait a little bit longer as weather is a key determinant, but after May it begins to get busy. You can however expect the airfares to be palatable.
As always recommended, don’t forget travel insurance as you plan your off-peak travel and look out for one-time events at your preferred holiday destination that could drive up demand.
Michael Otieno is an aviation consultant based in Nairobi. Twitter: @pmykee143, Email: [email protected]