I know I have called on South Africans many times to support local tourism. In the early days of the pandemic, when we were allowed to just peep our heads out of our cocoons, I wanted people to realise that we don’t need to think that not being able to travel internationally restricted us from having world-class vacations right here in our own country. Certain statistics showed that many of our people had never even travelled to more than one or two of our local destinations and were not even aware of the splendours of the Cape or the incredible appeal of the Drakensberg mountains – or had ever experienced a drive along the spectacular Garden Route. Of course, our magnificent game parks were in serious trouble too and my appeal at the time was to support local tourism, no matter what it took, for some very real reasons.
The tide is turning
Now, I’m thrilled to report that the tide has turned and (maybe largely because our eyes were opened to the splendour of what our own country has to offer) it is looking like we may be in for an excellent year-end in South Africa. Due to the very long COVID-19 lockdown, so many people have been alone and isolated from their loved ones and friends. It stands to reason, therefore, that travel to visit friends and relatives is on the increase and is going to be a main feature of the festive season. This means most people will be visiting locally and that is just one of the factors that are going to fill most modes of transport and accommodation venues come December.
The international travel headaches may not be worth the effort
There are also many reasons why holidaying locally may just save you a lot of headaches and be a lot easier. One trusted international report said that the average global travel restrictions are 365 per country! This means going through an awful lot of red tape and pre-vacation preparations even if your Travel Advisor is as competent as most of ours are. Don’t forget that the costs of these various requirements and covid tests, added to the costs of the usual visas etc. can also be exorbitant.
Book now to avoid disappointment!
I know many of you are cringing as this is the oldest sales pitch in the world but be warned that this is a reality for this year-end in South Africa. We are rapidly reverting to being a good alternative to other destinations as our borders have opened up but many of the expected year-end tourists haven’t booked yet, so a warning to locals to book now before they miss out. There has been a fast increase in inbound quotes, so these conversions are to come through soon and many (mostly Western European) tourists are booking for October to December and into 2022.
I understand that fares are still a little high as the airlines are still growing in capacity but there is good value to be had right now and people need to get on top of their 2022 holiday and move fast to ensure they get the best deals and get into their preferred venues. The game lodges for example are packed for the most part, as are popular resorts like Sun City.
Support one of our greatest assets
So, in conclusion, the simple question is “Why suffer the headaches and costs of an international travel experience this year-end when you can have just as great a vacation right here at home whilst continuing to support our precious and vitally important tourism industry?” I say while the world is not your oyster right now – savour the best of South Africa. You won’t regret it, but you’ve been warned – book now!
Stay safe and keep the wanderlust alive.LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER