Monday Musings 31 August: Tourism Month’s green shoots

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Monday Musings 31 August: Tourism Month’s green shoots 1

Today marks the last day of Women’s Month in South Africa and no better time to take a look back at some of our amazing women—lionesses—in tourism. Over the course of the month, South Africa Is Travel Ready has featured an inspiring, yet in no way exhaustive, round-up of 31 women who are making their mark on the industry.

There are so many amazing stories in this series, it’s impossible to distil just one message. Twist our arm, and we’d say one takeaway is that you are in control of your own narrative—and never underestimate the power of a good story. In the words of social entrepreneur and Stellenbosch local, Khanyisa Mhlakaza, “Your story is your strength. It becomes your backbone. It becomes your strength to step up the ladder.”

Women’s Month 2020 may be coming to an end, but the work of uplifting women and girls in our country is far from over. As is the pandemic’s modus operandi of exposing and magnifying longstanding injustices in our society, gender equality has taken a hit in the last five months. Globally, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs, according to research by McKinsey. And we’ve highlighted it here before: women comprise over 70% of the workforce in South Africa’s tourism industry and are often the first to suffer job loss and economic hardship.

There’s no magic bullet for achieving gender equality—but an answer may indeed lie at the nexus of female leadership and inspiring stories.

Time travelling into spring

Monday Musings 31 August: Tourism Month’s green shoots 2

It’s a scientific fact that time travel exists in 2020—at least in the mind. Over 80% of participants in a recent study in the UK felt their perception of time altered due to the pandemic and its imposed social distancing measures. But it turns out, how we perceive the passing of time is unique to our personal circumstances. The main factors influencing our perception of time are age, stress, busyness, and level of satisfaction in social interactions.

What with COVID-19 playing on our anxieties, pushing people to either extreme of overworked or idling through the complete Netflix catalogue, and fraying our social connections to friends, family, colleagues and even strangers—it’s no wonder time’s been loopy in 2020! 

According to the study, if you’re young (we’ll take that to mean, at heart), relaxed, busy, and socially fulfilled, time is going to fly.

So, whether it’s felt like a lifetime or the blink of an eye, we’re now headed into September, Tourism Month in South Africa, and we’re ready to stretch our legs, minds and social skills—all potentially atrophied post-lockdown.

Tourism Month coinciding with our industry’s gradual recovery at the start of spring, with all its symbolism of hope and progress, feels downright poetic. Here are some springy, exciting things to help thaw you out post-hibernation:

  • WildEarth will be live streaming Africa’s spectacular Great Migration following their virtual safari success which saw a whopping two million viewers tune in during lockdown in April alone. Coincidentally, the same number of wildebeest, Thompson’s gazelles and zebra will migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park into Kenya’s Maasai Mara over the next two months.
  • Africa Travel Week is launching a series of educational masterclasses led by industry experts. Free to the public, these masterclasses will kick off on 8 September and run through October with engaging topics like how to resonate with the luxury traveller, the LGBTQ+ traveller, and the African diaspora traveller.
  • Drive-in cinema is sweeping South Africa, from Durban to Jozi to Cape Town. Next up: drive-in film festivals. This year the Garden Route International Film Festival (GRIFF) will be part virtual, part drive-in, and feature events in nine towns along the beautiful Garden Route between 25 September and 11 October.
  • Checkers’ popular “Little Garden” promotion is back and now proudly South African after finding a local supplier and upskilling 150 people, most of whom are women, to produce more than 20 million seedling kits that will soon be putting down roots in herb and flower gardens around South Africa.

More than anything, this year’s Tourism Month is all about proving our industry is travel-ready.

Staycation vs ultra-long-haul

Monday Musings 31 August: Tourism Month’s green shoots 3

Whether you’re subject to travel restrictions or prone to flyperventilating, a staycation is a great option for keen travellers in 2020. Spoilt for choice here in Mzansi, our staycations look a lot like some people’s dream getaways with our perfect recipe of bush, beach, city, and adventure.

Overseas, Europeans are staycationing in style and making the most of their remaining summer season aboard luxury river cruises. Meanwhile, Estonians are fortunate to host one of only a few festivals going ahead in Europe’s normally packed summer calendar—Tallinn Music Week which opened last week. 

Japanese in the seaside town of Oarai are taking the ‘beach read’ concept to a whole new level. While swimming has been banned to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the beach has been set up as a temporary, outdoor library with shaded seating for beach-loving bibliophiles.

And while gaining a new-found appreciation for home is great, long-haul and cross-border excursions may not be far off.

Research suggests that COVID-19 could actually lead to a surge in ultra-long-haul flights, of at least 14 hours per leg, as more travellers view direct connections between low-risk cities around the world as safer and more efficient. If you want to plan your ultra-long-haul flight, the Safe Travel Barometer has audited over 150 airlines, assessing their COVID-19 health and safety measures and scoring them out of 5. The top score goes to German airline Lufthansa with an impressive 4.5. 

But if you still prefer land travel, there’s an ultra-journey for you too. Adventures Overland is launching an epic 70-day bus route in 2021, traversing 18 countries and covering 20 000 kilometres from the UK to India. The route will take in hotspots like Brussels, Prague, and Moscow, as well as off-the-beaten-track gems like ancient cities in Uzbekistan, the Gobi Desert, the Great Wall of China and more.

Cruising is also set to make a comeback, with Cruise Lines International Association’s recent survey suggesting that among people who have taken an international holiday in the past two years, there is only a slight shift in sentiment around cruising and interest remains strong. 

Whether you’re planning a staycation or dreaming of destinations half a world away, embarking on a solo trip or a gramping holiday, it’s all looking good in the fresh air of spring. Green shoots ahead!

Stay safe & strong!

The Big Ambitions team