Africa Travel Week

Many mickles make a muckle

The curated weekly ATW column that gives you all the latest travel news and info without having to go down a few rabbit holes…

“Many mickles make a muckle.” It’s an old Scottish proverb that illustrates a truth we all know (but don’t always remember) which is that lots of little things add up, and often mean the most.

When we think about progress, we often imagine how good it feels to achieve a long-term goal or experience a major breakthrough. These big wins are great — but they are relatively rare.

Small wins can give us an enormous boost emotionally and can raise our level of intrinsic motivation — by exactly 28%, according to a study cited in the Harvard Business Review.

We’re still weathering the storm when it comes to our beloved travel and tourism industry but the latest lockdown announcement last night does allow us to celebrate the small win of moving forward into level 3 on 1 June, along with a few extra victories such as:

  • Filling up our wine glasses again as the sale of alcohol returns.
  • Lacing up our runners to exercise outdoors at our preferred time.
  • Grades 7 and 12 learners being allowed back at school (optional).
  • Dates to be announced for domestic air travel (for business).
  • The return to work of up to 8 million South Africans as other sectors re-open: manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, professional and business services, information technology, communications and media services.

Nine weeks into lockdown, we are finally getting somewhere!

Last week, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa TBCSA also announced that 3 000 submissions were received from tourism stakeholders, who are all working together towards recovery. This being part of the industry-wide Tourism Recovery Plan led by South African Tourism. And one last mickle for that muckle, as reiterated by President Ramaphosa:

“We are consequently in a much better position than many other countries were at this stage in the progression of the disease. As a result of the drastic containment measures we have taken, we have been able to strengthen our health response”

So, what comes next?

Despite some scale-back from 1 June, to ensure that we maintain social distancing, certain high-risk economic activities will remain prohibited. These include:

  • Restaurants, bars and taverns, except for delivery or collection of food.
  • Conferences, events, entertainment and sporting activities.
  • Personal care services, including hairdressing and beauty services.

As an important FYI, there will also be a differentiated approach in regions that have higher levels of infection and transmission. These areas will be declared coronavirus hotspots, and, should it be necessary, any part of the country could be returned to alert levels 4 or 5 if the spread of infection is not contained and there is a risk of health facilities being overwhelmed.

Here’s the link to the full address. Not in the mood to read it all? Check the infographic here.

Did he say business travel?

Yup. Business travel is almost back — phased in dates still to be announced (and still plenty of debates around air travel to be expected).

For insight into what this could look like now that it is becoming a reality, IATA’s newly released Biosecurity for Air Transport: A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation offers a roadmap for airlines and airports looking to nail down best practices for a post-COVID-19.

Looking locally, Nompumelelo Mpofu, CEO of ACSA recently revealed how the industry could take its first steps back into business at the start of next month:

The plans, which include priority routes and ‘flight windows’, could look something like this:

  • A limited number of flights would be allowed per day, with each requiring special authorisation to fly.
  • ACSA wants to prioritise air travel on the ‘Golden Triangle’ between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
  • It’s argued that interprovincial road transport must be allowed, to feed traffic to the three main airports.
  • A suggested that three windows for travel time – 6:00 to 9:00, 15:00 to 18:00, and eventually 6:00 to 18:00 when demand rises. Night flights would remain prohibited, though.

On the topic of business travel, an interesting point still to ponder is what will business travel look like now that we’re seeing how much we can do via video. As Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told Business Insider last week:

“I think we’re seeing that you can do a lot [via] video conferencing, and that’s going to have a big impact on how often people travel for work,”. Business travel isn’t going to go away, but I think it’s going to look very different in the future.”

Could business trips become a thing of the past as the pandemic pushes CEOs to ask themselves what warrants a flight and what could’ve been a Zoom call?

And what about the small wins in the SADC suburbs?

If you’ve not yet peered over the fence recently, our SADC neighbours are also easing up on restrictions:

In Zambia: Zambian President Edgar Lungu has reopened the Victoria Falls to the public, nearly two months after closing the World Heritage Site due to COVID-19. He urged all visitors and tour operators to follow health guidelines by wearing masks and practising social distancing, adding that the “Decision to reopen the Victoria Falls was based on the city of Livingstone not recording any cases of the coronavirus.”

In Namibia: Namibia’s national parks have reopened following their closure in April as a result of COVID-19. Spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Romeo Muyunda, confirmed the reopening in stage two of Namibia’s lockdown. He also notes that the private sector was also offering special packages for local Namibians to promote domestic tourism.

In Botswana: In line with Botswana’s strategy of easing the lockdown restrictions introduced to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the government announced phase three last week, with national parks reopening. Game reserves and museums are also open again for business, with commercial guest houses now allowed to start welcoming guests.

As Seth Godin so effortlessly puts it, “It’s easy for us to choose to worry. The world is upside down, the slog continues, a tragedy unevenly but widely distributed. Worry takes a lot of effort. And worry, unlike focus, learning or action, accomplishes nothing of value.”

A final note on waiting and worrying…

With restrictions easing slowly, it’s tempting to simply want to wait for things to get back to normal (that is unlikely to be just like it was). All the time we’re spending waiting is time we’re not spending learning, leading and connecting.

As Seth Godin best puts it, it’s also easy for us to choose to worry. “The world is upside down, the slog continues, a tragedy unevenly but widely distributed. Worry takes a lot of effort. And worry, unlike focus, learning or action, accomplishes nothing of value.”

If you’re ready to take action this week as we shift further into recovery mode now and celebrate our small wins, we hope you will join part 2 of our #INTHEKNOW series. During these virtual discussions in partnership with Africa Travel Week we crowdsource solutions to business challenges as we aim to emerge from this crisis stronger.

Bring your brains and book your spot on 28 May at 2pm here.

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