This week, the headline on the cover of The Economist was simple:
It celebrates the news that the world’s scientists are now on course to produce a working vaccine against COVID-19. Of course, many questions still remain. How quickly will significant volumes of the vaccine become available? (Wits University Professor of Vaccinology, Shabir Madhi reckons it’s optimistic to believe that South Africa will get any before the middle of next year.) How will it be rolled out? And how expensive will it be (particularly as it requires ultra-cold storage to remain effective)? Despite the uncertainty, suddenly there is hope.
The headline could have been written for South Africa’s travel and tourism industry after President Ramaphosa scrapped the red list on Wednesday evening, opening up international travel. News which we met with whoops of joy, excitement and giddy relief – and more than a few tears! Yes, there is a long road to walk (with air access, international travel restrictions, confidence and uncertainty still major barriers) but suddenly, hope.
From now on, all visitors to South Africa, regardless of their origin or citizenship, only require a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure. And we’re not alone. According to the New York Times, testing options are growing as more people consider travelling. Countries like France, Aruba, Bonaire, Puerto Rico and Hawaii require that the PCR test be taken within 72 hours of departure, while Abu Dhabi and Croatia require test results within 48 hours of departure. Some airlines, like Egypt Air, allow travellers to use results from a test taken up to 96 hours before travelling, depending on where they are travelling from and to. All good news, especially if it sees the end of mandatory 14-day quarantines around the world!
And as we see more and more people travelling, we’ll see new approaches and innovation. According to Edmund Bartlett, Jamaican Minister of Tourism, and one of the speakers on WTM London’s Tourism Investment Ministerial Panel on Monday, 09 November, the pandemic has brought about a new generation of travellers – Generation C – a particularly cautious traveller who wants to be protected should things go wrong during their trip. Think more comprehensive travel insurance, tourism bubbles, long stay visas for digital nomads, and rapid testing. The cruise industry is also getting in on the action with the world’s first full-scale PCR laboratory at sea installed on a Viking Cruises passenger vessel. All signs of hope, promise and opportunity – and resilience.
Despite the longest year in living memory, people are finding a way. People are wanting to travel and others (through innovation, lobbying, courage, grit and goesting) are making it happen.
This week, the ‘South Africa is Travel Ready’ collective launched their new #ExpereincesNotThings campaign – encouraging people to buy travel, not trinkets this festive season. Will it work? As Natalia Rosa says, “we dare to dream it will.”
We hope that people will want to try something new, put a higher value on experiences than on material goods – and will discover new ways to “escape and reconnect meaningfully with others”. And experiences don’t have to break the bank. Cape Town Tourism’s new Pocket Friendly Challenge highlights value-for-money experiences from putt-putt in Sea Point to drumming in Langa!
We hope that the #ExpereincesNotThings campaign will be successful. After all, what is holding us back? As Seth Godin says, “you don’t need a permit to speak up, to solve an interesting problem, or to lead. You don’t need a degree to write a lyric, or take responsibility, either”. While credentials are essential for surgeons – or the scientists leading the world’s quest for a vaccine – sometimes simply doing the work can make all the difference in the world.
For Godin, actions matter more today than ever before: “We can see your work, hear your words, and understand your intent. Today, we can go beyond the credential and actually see your impact. We can create a body of work and a community that understands the impact we’re capable of.”
#ExperiencesNotThings will be featured on the traveltosouthafrica.org landing page with all the information of what’s on offer and how to book it directly with the experience provider. There will also be exciting competitions run throughout the campaign. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
And what of goesting? A wonderful, almost untranslatable Dutch word, which means ‘desire’ or ‘can’t hardly wait’. This collection of words will remind you why we love to travel, meet new people and experience new things. And to make you smile? Apparently, Hawaiians have a word, ‘akihi’, which means listening to directions and then promptly forgetting them as you walk off. What a wonderful, warm and fabulous world we live in. Yes, we need to reimagine the tourism industry, but the recovery starts now.
What the world was musing over this past week:
‘Flow states’ may change your life
If you have never heard of ‘flow states’ (and we certainly hadn’t), grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a great read. Maybe it’s the promise of increased creativity; the promise of seamless, efficient and ‘easy’ work; or that three hours of work could give you the rewards (and results) of eight. According to author Tim Denning, three hours of creative ‘flow’ every day is all you need to change your life. Bring it on.
Dream job alert
Could this be the world’s best job? Luxury bed linen company, Tielle Loves Luxury, has just posted a job ad for a professional, five-star hotel bed tester. That’s right: the successful applicant will be paid to sleep in some of the country’s best hotels and report back on their experience. Key duties include dozing, snoozing and snuggling.
The most extraordinary abandoned places around the world
Although this does feel a little post-apocalyptic, this beautiful collection of pictures shows exactly what happens when nature reclaims abandoned places around the world.
The power of music
A touching video showing a former ballet dancer, Marta C. González, gracefully dancing as she hears the music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake has gone viral worldwide. Although the archival footage used in the video may not be González herself, it shows how music can evoke a strong and powerful response in those suffering from memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Grab the tissues.
Hyperloop travel, may be closer than we think
The futuristic transport system, Hyperloop, has come a long way since Elon Musk first started talking about a “fifth mode of transport” back in 2012. Virgin Hyperloop has just successfully tested human travel in their Hyperloop Pod – and it’s a pretty big deal.
What is Zoom now worth?
In perhaps the starkest example of the COVID-19 pandemic’s biggest winners and losers, TNMT reports that Zoom is now worth more than the 15 largest airlines in the world combined – a staggering $150 billion.
‘Tis the season …
If you’re not a fan of Christmas ads, look away now. Although it’s only the middle of November, many brands and retailers have started releasing their 2020 Christmas ads. John Lewis (who apparently nearly didn’t produce an ad this year) focus on kindness, Oscar winner Taika Waititi produced Coca-Cola’s – and this one from SuperValu Ireland has all the feels.