Monday Musings 29 June: Milestones and Mettle

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The last week or so has seen plenty of milestones and memories. South Africa marked 90 days in lockdown (94 as you’re reading this), the Winter Solstice promised sunnier days to come, Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial kicked off in Johannesburg, and, incredibly, it’s been 25 years since Madiba donned Francois Pienaar’s No. 6 jersey at Ellis Park to cheer the Springboks on to World Cup victory.

But it was also a long week, requiring patience and mettle. After President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on the 17th of June, the hospitality and tourism sectors were looking forward to an easing of restrictions, but days passed, patience was tested and we’ve all experienced moments of frustration as we look for clarity and answers.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane outlined the amended lockdown regulations for the tourism sector on Friday evening, and hopes for a full return of domestic leisure travel were soon dashed. But there is a glimmer of hope.

Although there has been some confusion around the gazetted tourism regulations, it seems that while the regulations themselves do not allow for inter-provincial domestic leisure travel, intra-provincial travel (i.e. within your own province) is still on the cards. Read Natalia Rosa’s article, published on South Africa is Travel Ready, here.

If anything, the coronacoaster is still in full flight. And while we all have our moments of terror, regression or exhaustion, we’ve got to hang onto our grit.


The meaning of grit

In this fabulous video, Angela Duckworth author of Grit, explains the concept of grittiness in just one minute, 45 seconds. ‘Being gritty’ is not about ticking off low-level goals (your daily to-do list), but rather making sure that your low-level goals and mid-level goals all feed into your ultimate concern – that top-level goal that you should never lose sight of.

If, for example, your top level-goal is to provide a safe post-COVID travel experience in order to kickstart your business and instil confidence in our sector (and the country as a whole), then each task, step and decision needs to further your progress.

Of course, it’s not easy. We’re now living in an ‘always-on’ world, where the boundaries between home and work have become increasingly blurred, leaving us exhausted, burned-out and decidedly ‘ungritty’. Here the Harvard Business Review looks at how different personality types cope with an always-on culture, and how you can finally achieve a little work-life balance.


In some good news …

In true South Africa grit and gees, this week saw the launch of Mzansi Tourism Champions, an online platform dedicated to championing the needs of those working in the tourism field. Open to anyone in the industry, from agents and operators to freelance guides and business owners, Mzansi Tourism Champions is an innovative space for those looking to share information and advice – or offer support in challenging times.

For those looking to the skies, Delta Airlines announced that it will launch a new flight route to Cape Town on Saturday, 24 October 2020. The airline has put a number of measures in place to ensure passenger safety, including only allowing 60% of the cabin’s capacity to fly. Meanwhile, according to Business Insider, Virgin Atlantic plans to resume flights in July, with Joburg to London scheduled for September 2020.

And the seas? Managing Director for MSC Cruises South Africa, Ross Volk told IOL TRAVEL that South Africans may get their 2020/2021 cruise season after all.

But first we have to get domestic tourism up and running. For a taste of what a local trip might look like in the coming months, follow Simon Espley’s experiences as he  test-drives a safari stay at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati area of the Kruger National Park. It’s a fantastic, comprehensive and insightful piece – and a great example of South Africa’s readiness.


Across the pond

A Canadian journalist has done something similar at a resort in Banff, Alberta. It’s an interesting peek into a post-COVID guest journey overseas. And while adhering to strict health & safety protocols remains key, they are not as overt and cumbersome as you might imagine.

Countries around the world have also been grappling with the reopening of their hospitality and events sectors. And while they are further down the track, it’s still interesting to read how different countries are approaching the guidelines for cinemas, theatres, nightclubs and music festivals.

In other news, Malaysia is in talks with Singapore and Brunei to create “green lanes” for less restricted travel and EU ambassadors are continuing talks around the reopening of external borders on 01 July as governments around the world seek to reopen their borders without a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Things are happening (albeit slowly). As we start a new week, remember to look for those glimmers of hope, take time to smile at hippos splashing in Richard’s Bay or caracal sightings on Table Mountain, and in the words of the inimitable Bill Bryson: One day this will be twenty years ago.

Stay safe and strong!

The Big Ambitions team