Official SA information on COVID-19:
Destination Garden Route COVID-19 official info

Taking responsibility, now and forever

Destination Garden Route - responsible tourism

The emails are streaming in and the news doesn’t stop.  When looking at the rest of the world, our country, South Africa, is only at the beginning of this COVID-19 journey we’ve all been put on.  It can be overwhelming, but let’s see what we can learn from this.

Several things are happening at the same time: there is uncertainty, and people don’t want that.  The feeling of instability, not knowing where we’re going, what the future holds, how bad it is going to get, or even worse: realizing it will get much worse before it gets better, is not a lekker one.  The scenario of not knowing whether your country of original will issue a travel ban to South Africa while you’ve planned this trip for so long is one of uncertainty creating anxiousness. The next scenario of possibly being (or getting) ‘stuck’ here because your country has closed its own borders while you were having a great time here is one that causes a different type of uncertainty and is may be not a lekker one either. These two scenario’s are playing out at the same time here in South Africa at the moment, and will continue to do so while tourists are still in the country.

A third scenario of being in South Africa while being sick, or getting sick, is on a whole different level and makes one think about responsibility.  Whose responsibility is it to stay as safe as possible?  Whose responsibility is it to make sure those around you are safe? I strongly believe that it is like what they always say when on a plane: in a case of emergency, the parents need to put on their masks first before they help their children.  And it is the same with this or any other virus: we need to protect ourselves first and foremost, so we can help those more vulnerable around us. 

At the same time the emails started coming in from those ‘above’ us in the chain offering help or insights in what is happening at a higher level: whether that is a wholesale operator explaining what measures they’ve taken and how they’re helping those currently travelling or with imminent travel plans (now being postponed) or news channels reporting on government’s steps taken and preparing us what the implications will be for individuals and the country at large. 

I sent out similar messages to agents who asked for advice for their clients who are currently travelling, were / are to travel in the next month or so, and even those with travel plans further down the line.  It is hard to make suggestions when the borders are (still) open, and in the end it is not us to take a decision whether one should travel if you still can travel.  The question is whether travelling is still a responsible thing to do, when you could be the spreader of the virus.  Or burdening the system that may struggle to deal with its current load already?

What is the responsible way to look at travelling, at the moment, but also in the future?