World Tourism Day
Every year since 1980 the world has celebrated World Tourism Day on the 27th of September. This coincides with the anniversary of the UNWTO (United Nation World Tourism Organisation) Statutes. The day is also significant as it marks the end of tourism’s peak season in the northern hemisphere and the start of tourism’s peak season for us right here in the Southern Hemisphere – if you were looking for a reason to explore and travel South Africa, this is it!
Why celebrate tourism?
This day celebrates the wonderful world we live in and the incredible sights and experiences there are to see and have all around the globe. For many countries the tourism sector has a large impact on the economic growth of the country, thus each year the day is given a unique theme to raise awareness.
The theme for World Tourism Day this year is ‘Tourism for inclusive growth’ and is inspired by the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the sector and aims to foster awareness for tourism and its social, economic and cultural value.
The current state of the tourism industry
Since the global COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 the world as a whole began to stand still. When South Africa entered its first hard lockdown, all travel in and out of the country was closed.This severely affected our local tourism industry. The volume of tourists visiting South Africa has decreased from 10.2 million to 2.8 million – that’s roughly 72.6% from 2019 – 2020!
As you can imagine, the loss to the country and its economy has been astronomical, but more than that, the impact this has had on all of those who rely on tourism for their livelihood has been devastating. The purpose of this year’s World Tourism Day, for South Africa is to encourage domestic travel and tourism within the country.
The lingering effects of the pandemic may be dissipating and we’re learning to adapt to a ‘new normal’ but tourism is not likely to return to its former state quickly. With international travel still tightly restricted and a heightened sense of fear and uncertainty around the virus, traveling domestically is a great way to nip your wanderlust bug in the bud and satisfy your sense of adventure!
What can you do to help local tourism
Before going through the headache of planning an international trip in these difficult times, try to consider traveling in your own backyard. South Africa is an incredible country with arguably the best weather, fauna and flora, wildlife and culture you’re likely to find anywhere else in the world. Booking a weekend away to the bush or taking your family to the coast is one way you can help.
Indulge (responsibly) in local activities
Anything you plan to do in our current climate must be done so responsibly and within the current guidelines and restrictions of the country. South Africans are tough and COVID-19 hasn’t brought us to our knees yet, we’ve learned to adapt and start to enjoy local activities again!
Not quite sure where to start? How about:
- Visiting smaller, local game reserves
- Touring your city on red bus tours
- Camping or hiking in protected areas
- Instead of opting for international hotel chains, rather book getaways at small, private guesthouses and lodges like iKhaya LamaDube.
Support local restaurants and franchises
When restriction levels allow for it, dining out is not only great for you but also for the hospitality and tourism sector. As hard as it may get sometimes, our local restaurants have adapted to their own ‘new normal’ – becoming take-away masters, setting up park and gos and even remodeling into roadhouses. If you’re worried about dining in public you can still make your mark and support these local businesses ingenuity by enjoying their new ways of doing business.
Visit our country's landmarks
With such a rich and colourful history and cultural background, South Africa boasts a plethora of monuments and historical landmarks. Not to be forgotten is the beautiful African Savannah which contrasts richly against the Cape Fynbos. The natural beauty our country holds and the rich ecosystems we have to enjoy are among the best in the world! Take a day, weekend or even a week to explore attractions in your local area to do your part – right on your doorstep!
Make valuable contributions to local conservation efforts
Natural reserves, conservation areas and wildlife are being protected and their causes supported on a shoestring budget. If you struggle to get out and about but still want to do your part, a noble way of helping our attractions stay attractive is to make any contribution you’re able to towards a cause close to your heart.
SPREAD THE WORD!
If you’ve visited somewhere and had an amazing experience or eaten out and couldn’t get enough, share this information with your community.
With diminished advertising and marketing budgets, word of mouth is invaluable for local establishments and when they’ve worked hard to earn your praise, why not tell everyone you know? It costs you nothing but your time.
Make sure to share your favourite getaways, restaurants or local activities and let people know exactly why you love it! Here’s where you can start:
Read our tips on how to write a good, honest review here