I have, in a previous article, spoken about what I believe is the very important issue of restoring the local tourism industry to normality as soon as we can. It will probably be a while before international travel is viable without a myriad of restrictions and safety precautions, so our priority as we begin to emerge from our COVID-19 cocoons should be to support local travel.
I think that there have been a few positive aspects of the pandemic and amongst these is a restoring of the family unit for many people. We have had to learn to live together at close quarters and interact as a family, and it has actually, from a travel point of view anyway, drawn many families together to share local travel experiences.
As air travel, which is creating the greatest level of anxiety, is not a favoured option, it appears that families bundling together in the family car has become the leisure activity of choice for holidays. All of a sudden evening meals at roadhouses and trips to the Drive-in have become trendy again internationally, and I have no doubt these will emerge here too.
The return of the family road trip
‘BushBreaks & More,’ as one example, are at the moment experiencing a higher than ever demand of South African’s just wanting to ‘getaway for the weekend’ – away from the stress that Covid19 has placed on our lives.
In terms of the family road trip, we in South Africa live in a country that offers so many choices and incredible experiences in this respect it is little wonder that it is a favourite.
A few great choices
Our magnificent ‘Garden route,’ a world-renown road trip, officially only extends for 200 kilometres on the N2 from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern cape, but has so many incredible places to stop and spend extended time. With so much to do, a family can spend a couple of weeks covering it.
If one is seeking more of a lengthy road trip, one can journey on eastwards to follow the spectacularly scenic and refreshingly rustic wild coast. This extends from East London in the Eastern Cape to the border of Kwa-Zulu Natal about 350km away. You feel like time has stood still here for a hundred years.
In the Western Cape, we have the famed Route 62, a journey of great contrasts starting in the breathtakingly beautiful Cape Winelands, adorned with vineyards and majestic mountains, to the almost barren but equally beautiful Klein Karoo, where one can visit many tiny village-style towns. It culminates in wonderful game viewing in the Karoo National Park.
These are favourites, but there are others too like the ‘Panorama Route’ near the world-renowned Kruger National park, probably the best wildlife viewing anywhere. The route itself offers spectacular scenery like ‘God’s Window’ and the Blyde River canyon.
Our own backyard is a vacation jewel.
I wrote recently about the incredible experiences we can have right here in our own backyard, and this illustrates another way that we can enjoy them – with something that should never become a thing of the past – the family road trip.
Few industries have been hit harder than the travel industry and tourism in South Africa in general. I’m not ashamed to say this is a cry for help, but not for charity, simply a request to make the right choice right now to support an industry that is a massive income generator for the country in good times.
As an eternal optimist, I too believe that behind every dark cloud is a silver lining. Maybe it is the family road trip, but however we do it, for this silver lining to emerge we need to work together to restore our tourism industry as quickly as possible. Stay positive – and stay safe!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER