We’ve been burned in the past – with flip-flopping regulations and hopes of reopening dashed. Then, at last, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced that intra-provincial leisure travel is indeed permitted. With the official release of the gazette on Friday bringing these regulations into immediate effect, it finally seems safe to count (some of) the proverbial chickens. So, is our tourism industry ready? A resounding, yes!
Subject to certain limitations, accommodation establishments can welcome leisure guests, tour operators can conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles, and while restaurants still desperately need the lifting of the alcohol ban, they can at least now seat a few more tables with the curfew pushed to 10 pm.
It’s not everything. We need to see much more cooperation between government and the private sector, more meaningful relief initiatives, and a clearer timeline towards which to work. To this end, the Department of Tourism released the long-awaited Tourism Sector Recovery Plan on Saturday, 01 August and encourages all stakeholders as well as the general public to give input into the draft.
This plan is meant to work for everyone. No matter where you fall in the tourism value chain, the size of your organisation or the role you fulfil, your input is valuable. You can view the plan here and submit your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org until 15 August.
Maybe it’s the Stockholm Syndrome speaking, but for now, the allowance to travel and stay overnight within our province has got us pretty elated.
And what luck that we happen to have an upcoming long weekend (kindly brought to you by: women!) If any of us can even remember how to pack an overnight bag, or if hotels are still supposed to have walls…the only question that remains is, where to?
Giving some love to the provinces, here are some of our favourite activities, destinations, and businesses we’ve come across this week:
- Mpumalanga: Staff at Kruger National Park’s Satara Camp embody rhythm and soul in their rendition of the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge.
- Limpopo: With Kruger often (understandably) stealing the limelight, don’t overlook Limpopo’s flourishing art, music and culture scene, rich with stories from the rural communities.
- North West: The rangers at Pilanesberg National Park are eager to welcome back visitors for game drives and walking tours – but will miss your mask-veiled smiles.
- Free State: Elevate your cheddar game and savour the local flavours at Noah’s Cheese found in the endearing village of Clarens.
- Gauteng: Refresh your perspective and fall in love with Jozi all over again on an immersive guided walking tour.
- KwaZulu-Natal: First, grab an ultra-stylish face mask (as well as other awesome accessories) from the fabulous women at dot.coco, before embarking on your Segway safari at Tala Game Reserve.
- Eastern Cape: Read up on the Xhosa legend of Coffee Bay’s Hole in the Wall before trekking along the Wild Coast to marvel at this awe-inspiring and oh-so-grammable arch.
- Northern Cape: Appreciate the conservation success story that is Tswalu Kalahari Reserve and help support its many ongoing ecological projects with a stay at one of its two luxurious camps.
- Western Cape: Water-bike with the penguins in Simon’s Town, and catch the last of the winter waterfalls at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which reopen their gates to visitors today.
Plus, where to stargaze within each province – assuming you’re still ducking in by that 10 pm curfew.
We’re now in Women’s Month, with Women’s Day, 09 August just around the corner and gaining greater momentum in the #IAMTOURISM campaign each day.
Head on over to South Africa is Travel Ready to hear from an extraordinary tourism woman each day this month, and check out the inspiring collage of strong women, and male allies, who are lending their voices to the fight for livelihoods. Please consider amplifying this message and helping #IAMTOURIM reach its target of 3 000 images by Women’s Day.
If you want to find out more about #IAMTOURISM and how you can get involved, grab a virtual seat at the next #TourismTuesday session happening tomorrow, 04 August – all are welcome!
What happens when World Ranger Day, 31 July, sidles up to the start of Women’s Month? You get the rare opportunity to hear from the world-famous Black Mambas. On Friday, members of South Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit hosted a Q&A from the Greater Kruger National Park to raise awareness about their work and share some of the passion that drives them. Looking to channel your own inner super (s)hero? Don your tiara and takkies and sign up for the Justice League™ Virtual Run Series. This month’s edition, taking place on 09 August, is obviously an ode to everyone’s favourite, fierce Amazonian: Wonder Woman herself.
Nike has aced the advertising formula of powerful images overlaid with emotive narration in their new ad, You Can’t Stop Us. Our first thought upon viewing: what a truly fitting mantra for South Africa’s tourism industry over the past few months.
Tourism businesses and staff are being tested in ways they could never have imagined. And the response we are seeing is one of grittiness and tenacity – the perfect incubator for scrappy ideas and innovative solutions. If in doubt, just take a whirl around this database of COVID-19-spurred innovations.
Since the beginning of lockdown, tourism and hospitality businesses across South Africa are pivoting, diversifying, or carving out new niches in their fight for survival. The industry is digging in its heels, to say, “You can’t stop us.”
In a great example of this, the iconic Peninsula Hotel in Cape Town, refusing to consider retrenchments, has begun to offer nearby residents laundry service, housekeeping and even repair work. And for those who want to mix up the monotony of working from home, the four-star hotel has computer workstations and private office suites available to rent for the day.
As we start a new week, with a few new freedoms, there seems to be a bit more hope going around. And we’re pretty sure that the southern right whales have picked up on our long-latent excitement.
Stay safe & strong!
The Big Ambitions team