Delving into Sun Destinations’ 2023 Business Growth

As the sun sets on another remarkable year, we embark on a journey of reflection and celebration at Sun Destinations. Our commitment to unveiling the heart of Africa’s wildlife has shaped a year filled with triumphs, growth, and unwavering dedication. Although you might be used to lodge and safari content from our team, we do write a monthly business blog to furnish our readers with vital behind the scenes information. Today, we thought we’d share a bit of business-to-business information highlighting our business growth in the safari industry. Welcome to our 2023 business wrap-up, where we dive headfirst into the statistics and stories that define our 2023 as a safari business.

Sun Destinations’ Occupancy and Business Growth

Mallory Kuyk-Michaels (Account and Human Resources Manager) says, “Throughout 2023, our occupancy rates, bed nights, and revenue have collectively painted a picture of resilience, growth, and unwavering commitment. From January to December, our properties have consistently outperformed both 2019 and 2022 figures, solidifying our position within the safari industry.

Occupancy rates—spanning the entire year—showcase a positive trend, surpassing the recovery period in 2022 and affirming our commitment to excellence. Bed nights echo this success, exceeding both 2019 and 2022 numbers; signalling a sustained demand for our properties. The crescendo of success culminates in revenue figures, with each month of 2023 outshining the corresponding months in both 2019 and 2022.

Beyond the numerical tales lies a celebration of resilience within the tourism industry. The collective strength showcased during the recovery period from the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to the industry’s enduring spirit. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the remarkable individuals who weathered the storm, showcasing the resilience and dedication that define the heart of travel.”

Booking Trends in the Safari Industry

In the wake of unprecedented global events, travellers are now prioritising financial security in their quest for unforgettable experiences. . The aftermath of the pandemic has prompted a shift in booking preferences. Some find solace in online booking channels, perceiving added security when someone else handles their reservations. Conversely, others seek a direct connection, opting to book directly with the property. This shift has prompted Sun Destinations to implement more lenient cancellation terms, providing flexibility and understanding in a post-pandemic landscape.

While focusing on maintaining a seamless experience for our trade partners and their clients, we’ve amended cancellation terms for RSA properties, offering leniency for bookings made 180 days prior to the intended arrival. This change is a testament to our commitment to adapt and enhance the overall experience for both our partners and guests.

We are also finding that some guests are opting for sustainable safari experiences, a clear indication that travellers really want connection and authenticity; and to travel with purpose. There also seems to be certain trends with foreign markets.

Our reservations team says, “Although our guests come from all around the globe, we’ve definitely noticed an increase in the Swiss, German and Dutch market.”

In the spirit of growth, Sun Destinations welcomed new additions to our Kruger portfolio in 2023. We offer a tier one and tier 2 marketing package, both of which benefit our camps and lodges. Offering two types of marketing strategies has been promising for Sun Destinations’ business development, as it’s allowed both parties to pursue strategic opportunities in the safari industry.

Nambu Camp, joining in March, has experienced exponential growth, showcasing the appeal of its unique offerings in the heart of the Big 5 Olifants West Nature Reserve. This is a camp synonymous with style and simplicity, and excellent hospitality. In May, we also welcomed a glamourous river facing lodge with a distinct Okavango Delta feel, Bundox River Lodge. We welcomed the unique Kruger-style lodge with it’s luxurious Meru-style camp.  Nyala Safari Lodge, a June addition, has steadily carved its place in the industry, becoming a recognised name among agents and direct guests. They decided to extend their opening special until December 2024, which has certainly helped with an increase in bookings and elevating its already reputable name in the safari industry.

In July, exactly a month after our Nyala launch, we welcome the affordable Phuti Camp on board and continue to help them establish their brand and place in our portfolio. The more recent inclusion of the Olifants West based Sausage Tree Safari Camp (launched in October) marks the beginning of a valued partnership, and we anticipate increased bookings in the coming year. It seemed we launched a new camp every couple of months in 2023. What a fruitful year for our Kruger portfolio!

As we streamline our traditional and digital marketing plans, we are expected to see a similar growth curve in 2024 in terms of bringing new partners on board. For 2024 we hope to increase our scope of offerings within the Botswana portfolio, and commit to growing our Trails of Botswana route even further.

Digital marketing is a core part of our business strategy and daily we push out fresh content from our photographers and guides at camp. Storytelling is what we do best, and this has started to gain traction over the past year. The digital landscape is competitive, but we are fully prepared for what 2024 brings in terms of social trends. As our team grows and we cement our social and digital strategies, we’ll see further growth in this arena. The latter half of 2023 we have increased our output tenfold; and aim to continue this momentum in 2024.

This year, these are our major social/digital improvements: 

  • Launched our TikTok platform
  • Invested in a social scheduling tool to streamline everything further
  • Increased our number of Google Ad campaigns
  • Started YouTube shorts
  • Launched our first newsletters to previous and prospective guests
  • Relaunched our Pinterest platform
  • Created targetted LinkedIn campaigns and posts
  • Revamped and redesigned our individual camp websites to mirror the Sun Destinations brand on our parent website

A few stats:

  • 18.5 k subscribers on YouTube
  • 22.7 k followers on Instagram
  • 19 k followers on Facebook
  • 6.87% increase in website visitors from the USA
  • A 33.56% increase in Google MyBusiness clicks

In terms of traditional marketing efforts, we continue to represent and showcase our properties at international trade shows around the globe. When we’re not representing our lodges across the shore, our portfolio manager consistently updates our agents with virtual product meetings; ensuring they’re kept abreast of the latest developments.

We are pleased that 2023 saw much success from the following road shows:

  • ITB Berlin in Germany
  • Africa’s Travel Indaba in South Africa (Durban)
  • Experience Africa in London
  • WTM Africa in South Africa (Cape Town)
  • The Klaserie Road Show in South Africa (Hoedspruit)
  • Best of Botswana Road Show in South Africa (Cape Town)


Courteney and Cecilia Blunden build Africa on Foot safari camp

WTM Sun DestinationsTeam Sun Destinations

As we bid farewell to 2023, Sun Destinations stands poised for the adventures that lie ahead. The statistics, stories, and partnerships formed this year fuel our enthusiasm for creating unforgettable safari experiences. We extend our gratitude to our valued trade partners, guests, and the dedicated team at Sun Destinations for being integral parts of our journey.