Last year was one filled with restrictions around movement, interaction and travel. Young people have a desire to travel both locally and internationally and the easing of restrictions around travel means they are starting to plan for future trips, much to the relief of the travel industry.

A recent Sunday Times GenNext online discussion, in partnership with Gautrain, focused on the trends that speak to South African youth, what they expect from public transport, and how the Gautrain is creating a window into the future.

SA has so much to offer to offer travellers, said Gautrain Management Agency chief operating officer, Tshepo Kgobe. Travel has become easier and more convenient with the introduction of apps such as the ‘Gauteng on the Move’ app which provides commuters with real time public transit information, timetables and fares for Gauteng-based public transport operators including Gautrain, minibus taxi services and other transport providers.

Quoting travel author, Anthony Bourdain, he said, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”

Siyabonga Mabaso, the executive manager for Transport Planning and Integration at Gautrain Management Agency explained that Gautrain’s network has been supported by feeder services which help to connect economic modes with other hubs. Gautrain has also partnered with minibux taxies to improve its network. Travellers expect public transport service providers to provide safe, affordable and efficient services – all of which the Gautrain successfully manages to do. The rail service follows all the necessary health protocols to ensure travellers are safe from Covid-19.

Earlier this year Gautrain launched a student promotion which offers a 25% discount on train trips between two stations. The promotion is open to full-time students under the age of 25 who are registered at an accredited institution of higher education in Gauteng.

Technology and social media have had a significant impact on how we travel, including how we plan for a trip with apps like Google Maps playing a leading role. Travellers are increasingly using apps like Trip Advisor to plan their trips, while most accommodation booking apps provide useful information about destinations. In a similar vein most airlines are launching apps which allow for a touch free travel experience in order to protect the health of travellers.

As lockdown restrictions have eased, the youth are eager to explore and travel with activities such as hiking growing in popularity. Domestic travel is significantly more affordable than international travel with travellers spoilt for choice of places to see and things to do in SA. As travellers travel more consciously, the use of public transport services like the Gautrain is likely to be on the increase.

Sunday Times GenNext, now in its 17th year, is the leading annual brand preference and consumer behaviour research on the youth. The GenNext survey provides meaningful insights into the minds of South African youth. From this year, all youth capabilities, including the annually anticipated 2021 Sunday Times GenNext youth survey will be enhanced by the strategic might of Yellowwood.

The big take-out: The tech-enabled youth generation are primed for a new digital type of lifestyle as they combine work with the global travel experience before they choose to settle in one place.

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