Monday Musings 6 July: Balancing lives and livelihoods

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“The top story is the one that informs our narrative, and our narrative changes our future,” shares the ever-venerable Seth Godin. And the tourism industry’s top story in South Africa right now, maybe the story everywhere, is balancing lives and livelihoods

If you want to help shape this narrative and have questions, or ideas, about how to safely open our businesses and borders as we near the pandemic peak, register and tune in for part four of our #INTHEKNOW series. This interactive bite-sized virtual event will take place this Thursday, 09 July at 2 pm in partnership with Africa Travel Week.

And if being in the know is your safe space, sign up for the South Africa is Travel Ready newsletter aptly named Ahead of the Curve. This weekly round-up of news is an excellent resource for all things destination SA-related and can be shared with your customers and guests to help instil a sense of reassurance and enthusiasm. Want to amplify this message? Add a South Africa is Travel Ready frame to your Facebook profile picture.

Coffee vendor

Local is lekker

We’ve all heard it, probably said it and seen it written on a padstal chalkboard somewhere: local is lekker.

With the Tourism Board Council of South Africa (TBCSA) firmly behind the interpretation that intra-provincial travel is permitted under the Advanced Level 3 Regulations, we must make the most of the province in which we currently find ourselves for the time being. 

Fortunately, each of our provinces has so much to offer. Local is very lekker here in Mzansi. Looking for inspiration? Check out South African Tourism’s short and feelgood YouTube clips highlighting the country’s nine provinces, or the #LoveWhereYouLive campaign on Flight Centre’s blog to get yourself and your customers excited about all that goodness just beyond home.

All across South Africa, tourist towns have acutely felt the stranglehold of Covid-19. Quaint little dorps like Dullstroom and Tonteldoos – situated in Mpumalanga and just across the border in Limpopo, respectively – are seeing their local businesses close and their residents face increasing hardship. These communities fear they’ll become ghost towns if the trickle of tourists doesn’t soon pick up.

Until interprovincial and international travel re-open, these tourist towns are in desperate need of support. Discover the small towns in your province, become a patron of local businesses, craftspeople and artists, and share your a-dorp-able experiences with others on your platform of choice. If Facebook is your soapbox, add the Ready…Set…Local frame to your profile pic.

Good news for those in the Western Cape: Stellenbosch has become the first destination in South Africa to be awarded the prestigious Safe Travels Stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). And all across the country, accommodations, attractions, tour operators and restaurants are adopting the approved Tourism Industry Standard Protocols from TBCSA. They’re putting in the effort upfront to ensure they’re ready to start welcoming guests, secure in the confidence that their operations are compliant with the highest levels of health and safety – they’re ready…set…local. 

Globe on a desk

Adventures abroad

Local is lekker, but sometimes wanderlust can only be quenched with a trip abroad. And if you’re more the ‘spin the globe’ sort of decision-maker when it comes to travel, the foreseeable future may cramp your style a bit. Across the world, some countries and regions are cautiously beginning to re-open their borders for international travel. But hopeful travellers must remain on top of these developments, understand what is required for entering different destinations, and what is allowed when you get there. For the when, where, who and how, bookmark Skyscanner’s Travel Checklist 2020 or consider working with a travel agent to help you expertly navigate the new normal in international travel.

Of course, the big news last week is the EU bloc relaxing travel restrictions for a list of approved countries. With South Africa’s disease curve behind that of Europe’s, we haven’t made the list yet – but the EU will be monitoring the situation and update their list accordingly every two weeks. (And for now, take heart in the fact that we appear twice on a different list: The 50 Most Popular Destinations For Post-Lockdown Travel – Cape Town at number 36 and Kruger National Park at number 20.)

For those who are planning European adventures, the EU has created a great  interactive tool to provide users with accurate and pertinent information to safely revel within its borders. You will find details of quarantine rules and services available in each country, including dates for re-opening hotels, restaurants, beaches, etc. Some of the spontaneity of travel may be gone, for now, but certainly not the excitement and adventure.

In case anyone’s counting, yesterday, 05 July, marked 100 days of lockdown and exactly four months since the first known case of Covid-19 in South Africa. If you’re finding your patience and optimism well and truly depleted for the year, you may want to splurge on the international shipping for Done with 2020. Or check out the #LoveCapeTown Lockdown Survival Guide for some laughs, levity, and coping mechanisms from a few of Cape Town’s most-loved celebrities.

And then, remember: we have a new half of the year in front of us that can be filled with relief, recovery, and opportunities. These things are unlikely to come easily, the path may not be linear, but each day we are one step closer to seeing the pendulum swing of this pandemic. Until then, we continue our balancing act – doing our part to curb the spread of the virus, while supporting each other, crowdsourcing ideas and best practices and championing our industry.

Stay safe and strong!
The Big Ambitions team