Yes, tourism is opening up again and we are bringing you all the best South Africa has to offer… for South Africans at affordable prices
There can be no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide has resulted in one of the most valuable and dynamic economic sectors in almost every country – tourism – being left in ruins almost overnight. Only now, half a year later, are the tourism sectors in many countries – including South Africa – starting to cautiously open up again. And if a second wave of coronavirus infections follow, they could be shut down again. Sadly, many tourism businesses and jobs have already been permanently lost.
For now, opening up the sector is not the same as getting businesses fully back into operation. It will take time. Tourism businesses rely on people, and people have to come from somewhere. And they have to be made aware of what is on offer. Border closures still prevents international travel between most countries, including South Africa.
Before Covid-19 our tourism sector was heavily focused on drawing visitors from abroad. Many of the best tourism offerings, priced in foreign hard currencies, were beyond what locals could afford. At the time of writing, under lockdown level 2, international travel in and out of South Africa was still prohibited but travel across provincial borders in South Africa was again permitted.
Local is lekker
As a result, local tourism businesses that have survived and are reopening, shifted their focus to local tourists. Because of the weakness of the rand as well as the financial pressures created for so many by the national lockdown, prices have been reduced to levels that South Africans can afford in rands, that is, those who have not lost their jobs or businesses or had their finances depleted in some other way by the Covid-19 lockdown.
Nonetheless, for the first time there is an abundance of innovative special offers enticing South Africans to come an enjoy those wonderful tourist experiences that previously seemed just too expensive for locals. Now South African rands can purchase experiences that only dollars, euros, pounds and yen were able to until the end of February.
As a magazine that encourages domestic travel, we at Mzanzitravel hope that our tourism establishments, operators, services and other offerings will keep it that way as much as is economically possible, even once the foreign tourists start returning.
And we hope that our government, which we think could have done much better in managing and supporting our tourism sector throughout the lockdown, will also change its approach to domestic tourism and be more supportive to all the hardworking, passionate men and women who make our tourism sector so special. After all, the South African tourism industry before Covid-19 was one of the biggest contributors to the economy and one of the biggest providers of jobs. Let’s get it back to that.
We all need a break
In the meantime, however, so many of us are worn out from being bombarded by real and fake news pertaining to Covid-19; by the often devastating financial and other impacts of the national lockdown; by being restricted in our movements and denied enjoying our great country and all it has to offer; by concerns for our health and that of our loved ones; from losing family or friends to the virus; from being prevented from enjoying get-togethers with family and friends; and from so many other unprecedented pressures.
Most of us, if not all of us, need a break and some really wonderful relaxation in settings we love, doing the things that we love, with the people that we love. The good news is, now you can. There is an abundance of innovative special offers and unique tourism packages now available to South Africans. Below are some examples, but you will find many more in the media, at online sites and across all social media. Go on, book that dream holiday or even just a brief getaway… you and your loved ones deserve it!
Meanwhile, if you wish to get the best and latest information on caring for yourself, your health and the health of loved ones during this pandemic, please visit our new website and online magazine, Mzanzihealth, at https://mzanzihealth.co.za/ – launching in September.
Innovative and creative solutions!
We have always known that the people behind South Africa’s tourism industry are resilient, innovative, and creative, but just how much so, we only found out now during the Covid-19 pandemic. Overnight tourism business owners and service providers found themselves without business or income. How to keep going till things get back to normal again, was the big question.
And boy, did they come up with brilliant solutions. Many tourism properties sold discounted vouchers online – and still do – which people could purchase as a tentative booking to be redeemed once properties were allowed to take in guests again. Others set up online virtual tours of their properties or services, created amazing Facebook and Instagram campaigns, or posted stunning videos on YouTube, all this so that the public would not forget them or would know about what they have to offer once tourism reopened.
As many people yearned for the great outdoors and visit to our stunning game reserves, many game reserves provided online “game drives”. These were in the form of videos shot by game rangers and guides on early morning and late afternoon drives and then posted online on the reserve’s website or sites like YouTube. Others set up hidden video cameras at strategic locations throughout their reserves so that one could watch the wildlife uninterrupted all day long every day. Themes parks, local and regional tourism offices, museums and galleries, among many others, did similar things.
Special packages & tourism experiences for locals
The TRAC N4 Route – yours to discover and explore
Trans African Concessions (TRAC) is an international, privately-owned company that manages the N4 Toll Route from the Solomon Mahlangu Drive Interchange in Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng, to the Maputo Port in Mozambique. The N4 Toll Route not only links Gauteng via Mpumalanga with Swaziland and Maputo in Mozambique, but it’s also the national road that leads to some of the most scenic and popular destinations in South Africa.
Trailing the Northern Highveld; the Southern Highveld and Lakes District; the Drakensberg Escarpment, the Lowveld and the Kruger National Park, the N4 Toll Route opens a wealth of cultural and historical heritage sites, abundant wildlife (including the big five), rare birdlife, mountain ranges and various other unique places and activities to visitors.
In Gauteng you can visit the Sammy Marks House situated just outside Tshwane, an impressive 48-room Victorian mansion that was once the home of the 19th-century tycoon Sammy Marks. Stop at
Bronkhorstspruit, once the epicentre of bloody battles, now hosting a Buddhist community at The Nan Buddhist Temple Centre.
Entering Mpumalanga, you come to Balmoral where, close to the N4 you will find a memorial and cemetery that commemorates the Balmoral concentration camp where women and children were interned during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Botshabelo means “place of refuge” and was established as a mission station in 1864. Today it is a Ndebele architecture museum boasting flamboyant geometric art and colourful beadwork.
Fort Merensky is another historical heritage site that’s set on a prominent hill near Botshabelo. Dullstroom is the country’s trout and fly-fishing mecca and a crucial conservation area and home to several tourist attractions that include the Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve, a clock shop with the largest collection of clocks in Africa, and a beer brewery and dairy farm at Tonteldoos
The N4 Toll Route splits into two roads at Machadodorp as it meanders towards Mbombela. One road goes via Waterval Boven, the other Schoemanskloof. The road becomes one again at the Montrose Falls junction. From here onwards you will pass through or by many more fascinating towns and places, such as Schoemanskloof, the Montrose Falls, Machadodorp, Elands Valley, Waterval Boven, the Elands Valley Conservancy, the Lindanau Falls and the Rocky Drift Nature Reserve.
Then on down into the Lowveld escarpment and you get to Mbombela, or Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga. You are now close to the Kruger National Park’s southern entrance. From here you will reach the border town of Komatipoort where you cross into Mozambique before ending your trip in Maputo on the Indian Ocean coast.
- Enquiries – Solange Soares, Communications Manager; Tel +2713 755 3316 (switchboard);
Mobile +2776 021 2524 (cell); Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JB Train Tours to JB Car Tours! Self-Drive Guided Road Trips
When his company, JB Train Tours (Since 1975) had to close down on the 14th February 2020 due to poor or no train services rendered by PRASA and the COVID-19 health pandemic, Johan Badenhorst came up with a brand-new idea: self-drive guided road trips to the South African platteland (rural countryside). He says he saw this as an opportunity to ‘think outside the box’. Johan identified 17 destinations, all departing from Gauteng, though people can join en route as well. This year he will start with six destinations (6 itineraries).
Major characteristics of these tours are that you get to travel the back roads and visit the Platteland, meet local people and eat local food. An example of such a tour is the Mpumalanga Lowveld Tour – Mountain Passes which is a 4-night tour on wh9ch Johan takes you through the beautiful mountain passes of the region, visiting many fascinating spots, historical sites and towns along the way.
Currently the tours accept a maximum of 10 vehicles in the convoy and minimum of 5 vehicles) plus the leader vehicle with Johan. Along the way you will overnight in carefully selected, first-class accommodation.
Treedom Villas and Vardos
Owners Debbie and Marc Nortje invite you to escape from the stresses of Covid-19 and lockdown and from the city to a unique piece of paradise nestled in the heart of the Garden Route in South Africa. Once you enter Treedom, the magic will swirl around you, nourishing your soul.
They have put in place all the necessary health and sanitizing protocols, and more. During the height of the pandemic they launched a voucher which can now be redeemed at their fabulous villa. Situated on the stunning coast of the Garden Route this magnificent treehouse villa is just waiting to welcome you and your family. The open, double-volume space and large expanse of windows invite in the unspoilt, natural surroundings and embraces the abundance of wildlife.
- For more information contact Debbie at Tel +27 83 324 0080 or email her at email@example.com.
Special Post-Lockdown Offers from Tintswalo Lodges
Tintswalo Lodges is offering a self-catering option for families and friends it introduced to stimulate local travel and accommodate South African residents within the current lockdown restrictions. Exclusive-use, self-catering options are available at three of the Tintswalo properties, offering a choice between a safari or coastal breakaway for a group of up to 10 people.
The R25 000 per night deal for 10 people (2-night minimum stay) offers excellent value to South Africans seeking a luxury destination for a self-drive reunion close to home, or further afield once inter-provincial travel is allowed.
Options include the Manor House at Tintswalo Safari Lodge in the greater Kruger area; the Tintswalo Family Camp in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg; and Tintswalo at Boulders Boutique Villa in Simon’s Town, Cape Town. Lodges are fully serviced, and all health precautions and safety protocols are fully complied with. Safari options also include two safari activities a day, a safari vehicle and the services of guide, as well as a private chef, housekeeping, laundry and wifi.
Another option is Tintswalo Lapalala in the Waterberg which is offering excellent 50% discount post-lockdown 2-night packages to South African residents, from R18 500 for two people sharing, inclusive of accommodation in luxury tents, all meals and two safari activities daily.
- To find out more, call Reservations on +27 21 773 0900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How you can let people know about your special offers
If you are a business or service provider in the tourism sector getting back on your tourism feet and have some innovative new offerings or special packages for South Africans, they need to know about these. And the best way to do this is by utilising one of our special discounted advertising packages, which will also allow you to get free exposure in an article in our magazine.
Simply contact our advertising manager Cheryl Pinter at email@example.com or Tel 021 761 6342 to discuss our advertising packages or an online listing in our Hidden Gems section. Once you have booked an advert or have listed your property or service on Hidden Gems, send us information about your business or service offering to South Africans in 250 words (don’t forget to include contact and website details) and attach two high-resolution pictures. Properties and services that are already listed on Hidden Gems will also qualify for this offer – simply send us your info and two pics.