By Sharon Kavhu
Johannesburg – The devastating effects of Covid-19 on the tourism sector across the southern African region have left most tourism companies either defunct or fighting for survival. In a bid to innovate and adapt, Glamping Adventures, a South African tourism company is set to introduce a concept of ‘collaborative tourism’ as the sector prepares to operate in the ‘new normal.’
Collaborative tourism is an initiative that leverages tourism and cross sector economic partners in the region.
The development comes at a time when the South African tourism sector has lost an estimated 68 billion South Africa Rand in revenue since the Covid-19 outbreak. This is according to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, an association that represents the tourism sector. The state of affairs in South Africa plays out across the region as governments are learning to shake off the Covid-19 pandemic.
Glamping Adventures Chief Executive Officer, Gugu Sithole sees the lockdown period as an opportunity to reinvent, adapt and plan.
“Covid-19 impacted on the tourism sector in a huge way, with negative losses recorded across board. As the sector fights for survival, we are also taking this period to champion for what we call collaborative tourism. This is something that leverages tourism and economic partners in the SADC region.
The company has already forged a working relationship with a Botswana based travel operator, The Gabs Experience – Travel and Tours. This is a strategy they are adopting in countries such as Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
“We believe this will have a great aggregate advantage for tourism in the region and once the world resumes travelling, South Africa and the region will pick up on the trajectory we had before Covid-19,” said Sithole.
The company says the Covid-19 induced lull has also broadened their business purpose. They have cast eyes on partnering with the corporate. This has resulted in a working agreement with human development companies.
“The real value of travel is that it rejuvenates. A well travelled person is more productive, so we believe that our retreats and team building themed adventures with human development companies will play a part in not only boosting tourism but productivity,” said Sithole.
While Glamping Adventures is a pioneer of glamping retreats in the region, such activities are expected to continue with caution.
“We will have to ensure that there is constant sanitizing, travelling with smaller groups, ensuring that everyone is tested of their temperatures and this is done frequently,” she added.
Other measures to be applied are: comprehensive education of our staff and guests in safety best practices; sanitizing of hands, surfaces and our glamping tents will be more frequent.
To resume operation without leaving any room for the spread of the pandemic, Sithole said the travellers would also wear masks to be safe and also protecting those around them.
“We will also ensure that when serving food, buffet will be eradicated as this causes contact. Additionally, one of our senior staff members will be a dedicated health officer on site to ensure compliance with all the precautions.
We are also on a massive marketing campaign with regular multimedia content through our social media channels. We believe this bridges the appetite for travelling when people are not able to travel because of COVID-19 restrictions.”
Glamping Adventures popularises glamping in South Africa and has toured picturesque destinations such as the Drakensberg, Mpumalanga, Hartbeespoort, Parys, Clarens Kruger Transfrontier Park with travellers from Southern Africa and source markets such as Australia, the USA and Europe.