Travel is beginning to open up, and there’s every opportunity for travellers to take to the skies once again. And while international travel might seem a little out of reach thanks to COVID-19’s impact on our pockets, there is lots to explore in our own backyard. Even better? Local travel gives us all the chance to play our part in helping to revive South Africa’s local tourism sector. Happily, our stunning country is chockfull of undisturbed beauty and plenty of wondrous hidden gems to discover.
If you’re itching to embark upon a proudly South African excursion, here are 4 ways that you can help local operators and establishments.
1. Spread the word
If you savoured a delightful meal at a restaurant while away or were pleased with your chosen hotel’s COVID-ready approach to prioritising the safety of its guests, speak up and spread the word! Post about your experiences on social media (don’t forget to make them shareable), upload your favourite holiday videos and photographs on TikTok and Instagram (tag the relevant establishments), and write a great review for the travel suppliers that went the extra mile. Word of mouth is still incredibly powerful today – and particularly during these times when curious travellers might need a bit of a nudge to get going after months in lockdown.
- Stay safe
Try not to let your guard down just because you are on holiday. Despite the gradual reopening of the tourism sector, COVID remains a very real concern. No matter how COVID-ready travel suppliers may be, their efforts will only work towards protecting guests if all guests adhere to the safety protocols that they have put in place. So, pay attention when your host is explaining the necessary safety guidelines, ask questions if there’s anything that you’re unsure about, and try not to let the mild inconveniences interfere with your ability to enjoy every moment of your time away.
Along with sticking to the stipulated safety protocols, it will also be helpful to speak openly about them to friends and family, both in person and online. The more information that is available to prospective travellers, the easier they will manage to find peace of mind. South Africa is indeed travel ready – don’t hold back from shouting it from the rooftops!
- Shop for souvenirs
Local artisans, crafters, and small business owners were hard-hit by COVID, so they need all of the support that they can get at this stage. Treat yourself to a sentimental souvenir or memento to help you remember your first getaway post-lockdown, or splurge on gifts for your loved ones. If you’re in the mood for a caffeine fix, be mindful of where you choose to sit and sip. Opt to support a small, locally owned café or bakery as opposed to a larger, more crowded franchise.
- Set your sights on sustainable experiences
Did you know that most local communities promise the ‘greenest’ and most authentic experiences for tourists? This is because they have a personal reason to make the sustainability of their own surroundings a top priority! Do some research in this regard or approach the hotel helpdesk or guesthouse owner for guidance around which experiences to book.
As we continue to trudge through the challenges brought about as a result of COVID, there will be plenty of opportunity for South Africans to jet off to inspiring new destinations across the globe. But, right now, our country needs us here. Choosing to embrace domestic tourism makes a direct contribution to the recovery of the travel sector and our economy as a whole.