Study finds that South African zillennials travel to find love

A young couple enjoy a splash at a waterfall. Picture: Unsplash

A young couple enjoy a splash at a waterfall. Picture: Unsplash

Published Feb 19, 2024


Travelling and exploring provides the prospect of meeting the love of your life and falling in love.

As we’ve seen in many romance films, the probability of finding love while travelling is higher than trying to find love back at home, and it seems that young South African travellers are hopeless romantics and believe so too.

According to a survey by the Flight Centre Travel Group, young South Africans may be the most romantic travellers in the world after the research found that 63% of South African Zillennials (Gen Z and Millennials) actively seek romantic connections when travelling abroad – more than respondents from Australia (40%), the UK (23%) and Canada (41%).

The Flight Centre Group data further revealed that, overall, 45% of Zillennials across all five countries said a holiday was the perfect place to find love, with more men (53%) claiming they’ve experienced romance abroad compared to women (42%).

Its MD, Euan McNeil, said this passion for finding love across borders may stem from South Africans’ sense of adventure and openness to new experiences.

“The diversity of cultures and landscapes across the globe offer the perfect backdrop for making meaningful connections,” said McNeil.

Before you think that this is just fairytale or romance fiction, the travel agents at the agency have experienced travel romance first-hand and have shared their experiences.

According to Garden Route team leader Karen Ackhurst, she was working at the Canal Walk branch when she met the love of her life, Chase.

“I was working at the Canal Walk branch early 2020 when Chase walked in to book a flight with me. So he started out as a client. From there we chatted throughout lockdown and finally met up when restrictions lifted.

“We were inseparable and a beautiful love story followed. Chase eventually joined Flight Centre as a novice in 2022. Yes, I am his boss at work but definitely not at home,” said Ackhurst.

Chantal Boonzaaier, from FCI Operational Finance, also revealed that she met her now husband while on holiday in South Africa during the eight years she spent working on cruise ships.

“We dated long distance for two years before getting married. Now we’ve been married for eight years and have a beautiful 4-year-old boy,” said Boonzaaier.

Though travelling to find love is at the top of the list for many South African travellers, solo travel is also becoming increasingly popular as people embrace the opportunity to connect with themselves while experiencing new destinations.

Flight Centre revealed that the majority of Zillenials from the five countries said they were very or somewhat likely to travel solo or wanderlone at 60% and that men were more likely than women to say they’d be very or somewhat likely to do so, with 64% compared to 56%.

Among Zillennials in the countries surveyed who’d be very or somewhat likely to wanderlone, the most popular type of solo travel was a soul-searching journey focused on self-discovery (54%), a reflective journey that allows contemplation and builds self-awareness (54%) and a cultural journey that fosters a deeper connection (49%), said the travel group.

Commenting on this data, FCTG Global CEO James Kavanagh said research showed that people were seeking and finding love abroad – with each other, and with themselves.

“With the month of love upon us, the pressure is on for couples to find the perfect gift for one another, and travel is the perfect option.

“No matter your preferred style of travel, our experts can help you find the right trip, at the right price and take the stress out of the booking process,” he said.