Monday Musings 27 July: Remember to Breathe

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Most of us have had a grim week. South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela indicated this week that domestic level travel is only likely to open up in late September or early October – with foreign tourists only allowed back by January 2021.

Another blow for our beloved industry.

Down, but never out, we saw the hospitality and restaurant sector’s ‘1 Million Seats on The Streets’ peaceful protest on Wednesday, followed by members of the hospitality and tourism industry gathering outside Parliament on Friday under the banners #JobsSaveLives and #IAmTourism.

Another peaceful protest, but this time (we learned in unfolding horror) the group was met by water cannons and stun grenades. It’s hard not to feel defeated. It’s hard, in the face of such unexpected brutality, not to feel raw emotion and steely anger. It’s hard not to give up.

But, as Natalia Rosa writes, we have to remember to breathe – so we can respond with purpose.

This industry is fighting on many fronts, and behind the scenes. Early last week, The Tourism Business Council of South Africa updated the tourism industry on the hard work, lobbying and government discussions taking place. Many thanks to Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa (CEO), Blacky Komani (Board Chairman) and SATSA CEO, David Frost, for hosting the webinar. If you missed the opportunity to tune in, you can access the recording here.

Also, join the weekly #TourismTuesday virtual industry meeting to share information about the #SouthAfricaIsTravelReady and #IAmTourism campaigns. Together we can make a difference. You can register here.

Connection in a COVID World

remember to breathe

It was a tough week in anyone’s language. But the strongest bonds are forged in adversity – and if anything, COVID-19 is teaching us about the importance of togetherness and value of human connection.

In fact, as COVID-19 torpedoes marketing budgets around the world, marketers are beginning to realise that connection, at least for the short-term, trumps all. According to Angela Bruwer, writing for Retailing Africa, the days of high-budget TV ads – the kind where crowds of hundreds clink glasses as they dance together in a small space – are over. Brands that tap into connection and shared, authentic experiences are more likely to survive.

In fact, brands used to working within small budgets, and developing relatable content and engaging social media campaigns are already at a distinct advantage – good news for SMMEs in the tourism industry.

 But what about DMOs? Destination Think reckons destination marketers need to be public servants (promoting safe travel), business coaches, teachers and more as we navigate new waters. In other words, working with the tourism industry as a whole as we prepare for a safe, responsible reopening. Connection? Absolutely.

For a wonderful, quirky, uplifting marketing campaign, look no further than Graubünden, Switzerland’s effort. It’s all about real people, warmth, human connection and an invitation to travel. We’re ready to jump on the train!

Itchy Feet

remember to breathe

After the week that was, we are all desperate to escape. No wonder, as it is day number 123 for those who are counting.

Unsurprisingly, we are not alone. People around the world have a serious case of itchy feet. Where in the world are people planning to travel in 2021? Travel company Kuoni, has mapped the most searched for and most popular 2021 holiday destinations for 131 countries around the world. The study shows a clear demand for future travel, with Google Trends indicating that searches for ‘2021 holiday’ increased by 124% when compared to the end of March. South Africans, for example, seem set on Thailand, while Europeans have a hankering for the Maldives!

Digital nomads are definitely packed and ready to go, and many countries are now embracing the concept of remote working by offering remote working visas to encourage people to stay a while longer. Sound good? These countries will let you work on digital nomad visas: Bermuda, Czechia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Portugal and Spain.

It may be a while before we can escape (locally or internationally), but in the meantime you can lace up your boots and set out for a walk. Fast becoming our favourite pastime, walking gives you the opportunity to breathe and regroup. Not only is it a wonderful form of meditation, but it can also help us think.

Always look for the good

remember to breathe

Yes, last week was a doozy. And yet there was plenty to smile about too.

Cape Town’s Waterfront got the WTTC stamp of approval; the Mzansi Youth Choir scooped a prestigious award accolade at the Interkultur Video Awards 2020; a Northern Cape rhino reserve celebrated 5 years without a rhino poaching incident; a Khayelitsha cookie company was saved from collapse by generous South Africans; a South African gospel song got the world dancing through a Pandemic – with the Hilton in Sandton taking on the Jerusalema challenge for #IAmTourism.

And perhaps our favourite of all? South African urban artist, Falco One has been painting incredibly creative and proudly South African murals throughout the country, and this gallery of images will leave you inspired.

A Haiku for the times

Haiku as a tradition dates back to ancient Japan, and many haiku poets were dedicated walkers, intent on exploring as many parts of Japan on foot as possible. The pared-down, evocative (and often humorous) style of Haiku lends itself to capturing travel moments, for example:

Tuscan red and whites

Near the Ponte Vecchio

Who took my corkscrew?

(Credit: Tony Kitchen)

And nothing sums up current times quite like this:

You are muted Steve

Yes we can all see your screen

You are still on mute


Until we can travel again (and take a break from Zoom),

Stay safe & strong!

The Big Ambitions team