Monday Musings: Unslumping yourself is not easily done

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Sometimes you just have a bad day, week or – in the case of our travel and tourism industry – a bad year.  

Last week was particularly rough for me. I felt as if we were all stuck in a slump: taking three steps backwards for every step forward. And as Dr Seuss says: “When you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done”. 

The one step or rather ‘leap’ forward was without a doubt United Airlines’ announcement that the airline will be reintroducing flights to South Africa from June. Finally, it seemed like we were making progress.  

But the celebrations were short-lived. News broke that France would start imposing a quarantine requirement on South Africans. Then, President Joe Biden threw another spanner in the works with his State Department Travel Advisories which listed more than 80% of countries as ‘Do Not Travel’. The warning for South Africa? Violent, dangerous, unstable.  

“Really Mr Biden?”. The South African travel industry did not agree, but neither did our colleagues in the US. As Peter Greenberg, a well-known travel journalist in America, said on his Global Travel Update: “If the US State Department was to issue similar Travel Advisories for the USA the whole of the USA would be a “Do Not Travel” destination. The State Department travel warnings should be renamed “State Department CYAs”.  

While most of us were still trying to figure out why on earth we were being shunned by the rest of the world, we woke up on Friday morning to the news that Mango could soon be mothballed due to lack of funds.  

Enough bad news in one week to make anyone feel down in the dumps. So, I looked for pointers on what to do to ‘un-slump’ yourself.  

“Unplug” and “Try something new” is the advice you’ll find in any self-help article worth its salt. So, quarantine your phone and try the new trend of forest bathing, which could potentially tick all the boxes. Definitely worth a try for tomorrow’s Freedom Day.  

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“Put things in perspective” is another great piece of advice. If you think you have a bad day, there are always people who experience worse according to the memes that flood our social media. The winners this week are the scientists who have to explain the ‘side-effects’ for the COVID vaccine. Staring, yawning, falling off bikes, and even falling pregnant are some of the weird side-effects flagged. Good luck scientists! 

And finally, “look to the future” to get yourself out of a slump. And the future is not looking all that gloomy for our tourism industry.  There are plenty of opportunities as the tourism sector is recovering and exploring new ways of doing things. A simple glance at Stellenbosch will show us the green shoots of recovery and possibility.  

So, let’s keep our eyes firmly on the horizon and shrug off the bad days, because: “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way!” 

Mindful Musings 

Here’s this week’s top quote to put in your pocket from Mark Strand 

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Marketing Musings 

Learn to be human again while travelling. That sounds like music to our ears.  

Actor Neil Patrick – wait for it – Harris, teamed up with the hospitality group Accor to bring the world a few much-needed lessons on the basics of “acting human” while traveling in our new post-pandemic world.  

These lessons include light-hearted etiquette refreshers on how to dress (sorry, no sweat pants), plan trips, greet people, have small talk, and how to actually relax because we all seem to have forgotten. 

“Travel around the world is forthcoming and it’s good to start anticipating and looking forward to getting out of the box we’ve been in for well over a year,” Harris has been quoted as saying. 

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Meanwhile, Jeff Doane, chief commercial officer for North and Central America at Accor, said in a statement that working with Harris in a “light-hearted” campaign was its opportunity to engage with people after a “challenging” year. 

“We know everyone is in a different place in terms of their comfort level with travel—and frankly, just in their day-to-day life—so our goal is to be here, ready to welcome all, whenever and wherever they’re ready to start exploring and discovering again,” he said. 

What the word was musing over this past week 

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Missing your daily commute?  

Microsoft has added new features to Teams to allow you to send praise to colleagues and even try out a ‘virtual commute’ that will allow you to unwind as you end the work day. 

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Don’t drink and start a league 

Heineken has cheekily marked the misguided attempt at a new soccer league in the UK with an Instagram post that bears a simple warning: Don’t drink and start a league. 

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And the winner is… 

The winner of the 93rd Academy Awards were announced in Los Angeles on Monday. Spoiler alert… SA’s very own My Octopus teacher has won an Oscar.  

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A shot in the arm for Zim 

Zimbabwe is leading from the front and has undertaken to vaccinate the entire population of the popular tourism town Victoria Falls. The rest of the country is following suit with tourism players joining the vaccination drive.