It’s the year of “travel reimagined” – interests and perspectives have shifted and travellers are seeking out new experiences and embracing the unfamiliar.
Extending to incentive travel, the increasing desire of wanting to be taken out of one’s comfort zone is fuelling the experience-seeking aspect of travel as the year unfolds.
In keeping with this trend, we’ve curated some of our top incentive travel destinations from Africa to Asia, Europe to Mauritius, to reward and inspire your teams:
1. Egypt: A cruise down the river Nile
This ancient land of the pharaohs personifies “experiences” and “a cultural immersion”. More than its famous pyramids and history dating back to around 3100 BC, Egypt is a country of fascinating contrasts: deserts and dunes, beaches and coral reefs, mountains and valleys, cosmopolitan cities and rural villages. It’s also a bucket-list destination.
The excellent value for money that Egypt offers for our South African Rand makes it an ideal incentive destination, and it is also a year-round destination. The climate is hot and dry, typified by relatively mild winters (October to February) and hot and dry summers (May to August).
Why a Nile cruise?
The Nile is the longest river in Africa and has been Egypt’s mainstay of survival for millennia. A cruise down this mighty river is a top-rated experience and an opportunity to see much more of the country in one visit than would be possible on land. Usually from Aswan to Luxor, your group will pass tombs, temples and pyramids, spot a variety of wildlife from the deck, such as hippos and the famous Nile crocodile, and be able to stop off for day trips and explore the pyramids along the way. Add to that luxury accommodation and delicious onboard local cuisine, and you have all the ingredients for an unforgettable incentive travel experience.
Flamboyant as its Flamenco dancers, Spain has a lot to flaunt, from historical buildings and castles to a rich arts scene and many festivals (ever heard of the wine-drenching fiesta?). With a diverse and beautiful landscape of mountains, beaches, islands, and the only desert in Europe, Spain is many destinations rolled into one.
Each region is unique in its culture and heritage, and each city has its own charm. As one of Europe’s most popular destinations and international meeting hotspots, there’s also a wealth of activities to enjoy, making Spain ideal as an incentive travel trip.
Climate-wise, Spain is also diverse. Inland summers are hot, and winters are cold, while along the coast, summer is mild and winter is cool. The best time for travelling is spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November), and it’s easy to get to Spain with flights available from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
Top cities to visit:
Madrid: The capital city is a great starting point due to its central location and also as a cultural experience. Pedestrian-friendly, exploring on foot is best to admire the striking architecture, including the Royal Palace and the famous Plaza Mayor (town square), surrounded by cafés, bars and museums. Food in Madrid is another drawcard. A culinary journey is guaranteed, from tucking into tapas at markets to fine dining.
Barcelona: This is Spain’s tourist hotspot, so it’s recommended to plan your incentive trips out of season. Why is it so popular? Much like New York, Barcelona is cosmopolitan and never sleeps; the nightlife here is renowned, as is the live music scene.
Straddling Europe and Asia via the city of Istanbul, Turkey is a fascinating and unusual destination, where ancient traditions seamlessly combine with modern life, making it an ideal cultural immersion.
A famous shopping mecca, Turkey is also popular for its stunning beaches, sustainable experiences like glamping and rail tours, and many outdoor activities, including paragliding, skiing and hiking, while being affordable.
The climate is varied and quite extreme with very dry and hot summers and winters chilly with frequent snow, so best to plan your incentive trips during spring (April – May) or autumn (September, October, November).
Top cities to visit:
Istanbul: As the only city in the world in Asia and Europe, Istanbul is nothing if not unique. The Bosphorus Strait divides the two sides of what was once the capital city of the ancient Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman empires. Today it’s not only a cultural melting pot but a contradictory city on many levels. Here you will find traditional bazaars and high-end contemporary malls; mosques and palaces and nightclubs; local street food and five-star dining alongside cuisine from almost everywhere else.
Bodrum: A European corner of Turkey and resort hotspot, Bodrum is situated on the Bodrum Peninsula and the Aegean coast. With the Yalikavak Marina catering to mega yachts and referred to as the Turkish Riviera, it’s where the rich and famous like to congregate, to sail and sunbathe, shop at the luxury boutiques, and dine at upmarket restaurants. Bodrum speaks to your top performers, offering the ultimate high-end experience.
Cappadocia: A city that must be seen to be believed. Cappadocia is situated on the barren Anatolian plains, a landscape that resembles a moonscape, scattered with rock formations of turrets and spires called the “fairy chimneys”. Ancient communities lived in hewn-out caves here, which they carved into the soft rock.
Treat your teams to an experience of a lifetime with a stay in a cave hotel, and add hot-air ballooning over the fairy chimneys and hiking to their itineraries. Some must-see attractions include the underground cave cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı and the Eski Gümüsler Monastery in the south of Cappadocia, carved into rock, and famous for its Byzantine frescoes.
This bucket-list island destination needs no introduction. Also referred to as Paradise Island, it’s easy to see why, with its pristine beaches, coral reefs, clear, inviting waters, rainforests, mountains and waterfalls.
Mauritius offers a wealth of resorts ideal for groups and stand-out experiences, from wellness (spas and retreats) and adventure (ziplining, canyoning and quad biking) to various other activities, such as catamaran cruises, island-hopping, big game fishing, horse riding and hiking. It’s also renowned for being a top diving and snorkelling destination.
Travelling to Mauritius can be done year-round, and there are only two seasons: summer from October to April and winter the rest of the year. But it’s not really winter because the temperatures are still warm, averaging around 21֯ C.
Got a big budget to play with? Looking for a high-end destination for your groups? Then nothing beats the Land of Ice and Fire – Iceland. With breath-taking landscapes like no other, from black-sand beaches and lava fields to snow-topped mountains, glaciers and volcanos, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. The unspoilt tracts of wilderness also draw many adventure-seekers.
The best way to immerse your groups in Iceland is with the Golden Circle tour, 300 kilometres of traversing through the landscape to experience the country’s top three natural attractions – the Thingvellir National Park, set in a dramatic landscape of gorges and cliffs, the Geysir geothermal area with its erupting hot springs and the spectacular double-tired Gullfoss Waterfall.
Another magical European city bound to entice your groups, glowingly referred to as “The Paris of the East” and “The City of a Hundred Spires”, due to its many cathedral spires, towers and turrets. Often overlooked by tourists, in recent years, Prague has come to the fore as both a desirable and affordable destination in the centre of Europe.
This charming historic city is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, having escaped heavy damage from WWII bombings and been beautifully restored. Prague is typified by polished cobblestone streets and well-persevered architecture, including from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras.
A sightseeing excursion in the Old Town is highly recommended, where your groups will encounter famous landmarks such as the magnificent Prague Castle, which originates in the 9th century, and is a grouping of palaces, churches, fortifications, and gardens. The Jewish Quarter can be found between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River, where the history of Jews in Prague since the 13th century has been well-preserved and several synagogues, the Jewish Museum and the Jewish Cemetery are situated.
Inspired by our top six for your upcoming group incentive travel bookings? Glad we could help! These destinations will also deliver those sought-after novel travel experiences in 2023.