Don’t ditch travel – opt for isolated holidays during the third wave
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Panic. Fear. Uncertainty. These are some of the feelings many travellers face as the country battles a new surge of Covid-19 infections and deaths.
Winter and the second-term school holidays usually provide travellers with the opportunity to explore, whether it's with their children, partner or a solo mid-year break.
However, in recent weeks, doubtful travellers have been playing the waiting game to see what happens next. The South African tourism industry believe that travel poses no risk as long as people follow all the regulations set by the government.
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, chief executive of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), said there were no risks associated with travel.
“Travelling is safe as long as you adhere to all the Covid-19 regulations. A family can drive to their destination, check into their accommodation, maintain social distance and enjoy activities without contracting the virus. The travel industry hasn’t been linked to any super-spreader events.
“The problem we find is that many people are meeting with others without following the regulations. As long as you are travelling safely, there is little reason to panic,” he said.
Tshivhengwa encouraged isolated trips away from large crowds.
“Road trips and staycations are popular and safe. And if flying, you could easily rent a car and check into a hotel or lodge without any fuss.”
He said the tourism and hospitality industries developed clear and comprehensive protocols to keep everyone safe.
“Travel and tourism businesses are adhering to protocols. If travellers find that establishments are not following the regulations, they need to report it to TBCSA with the accommodation name and the incident that occurred,” he advised.
Navigating third wave travel
South African Tourism Hub head Mashoto Mokgethi said travellers should explore their province and plan day trips, pending any government travel restrictions.
She said South African Tourism’s new winter campaign aimed to entice travellers to “do something that warms their heart”.
“Our campaign encourages people to get out of their comfort zone, tick off bucket lists or do something that warms their heart. We want them to make good memories while still practising safety,” she said.
Research conducted by South African Tourism found that travellers preferred exploring areas with wide open spaces, with people they know and trust.
“South Africa is a country of diverse landscapes and experiences. Travellers are spoilt for choice. We recommend travellers switch events for more intimates experiences like game drives or a trip to the beach if weather permits. If travelling to destinations with a third wave warning, steer clear of people as much as possible,” she said.
Planning isolated holidays
Isolated holidays are making a comeback during the Covid surge as more people want to escape the crowds. Travel expert Helen Untiedt and her family are among many travellers who swear by isolated holidays.
The family, who flew to KwaZulu- Natal from Cape Town this week, drove to a beach house and will explore different private villas in the area before it’s time for them to travel back home. All family members had Covid-19 tests before they left and quarantined at home days before their trip.
“We are keeping a low profile and are staying away from the crowds. We booked places that offer isolated types of activities, so everyone is gainfully occupied,” she said.
Untiedt, the co-founder and curator of Perfect Hideaways, said travel during the third wave depended on individual preferences and government restrictions.
“Each person has to do what makes them feel comfortable, and travel, or lack, depends on the individual. If you are healthy and not in a busy place, then you should go for it. However, if you don’t feel safe to travel, then you can always plan another holiday later in the year,” said Untiedt.
She said people who were travelling should stay away from busy cities and opt for small towns. “Avoid interacting with people before you leave, and take a Covid-19 test if you can.
“Social distance, wear your mask and follow all the regulations,” she advised.
Untiedt said travellers should book accommodation with open spaces, especially if they are travelling with their children. “Find out what activities the accommodation has and be creative with your own activities when booking in isolated places,” she added.