The last few months have been a blur of indecision, confusion and lack of motivation from our side. As a result, very little blogging has occurred and most of my plans have been put on hold.
Just recently though I received emails from past clients who were worried that they hadn’t heard anything in a while and so reached out to me to check on my mental health and the future of Country and Coastal Touring – this was such a kind and considerate gesture I hardly know how to thank them!
I realise though, that I need to give an update to all visitors as to where I am right now and where I hope to be in the near future. So, onwards with the first blog post in months.
The Current Situation
Right now, Country and Coastal Touring is in a holding pattern. With the borders in South Africa locked for the foreseeable future, we have no clients to guide around South Africa. And the reality is, even if the South African borders do re-open, it’ll take months for Country and Coastal to get back to where we once were.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not still taking calls and emails. There is still a great deal of interested coming from potential tourists, it’s just not on the scale it was once.
Fortunately for me, Country and Coastal Touring is a small business and is able to roll with the punches and make changes pretty quickly and easily. Even before the lockdown was announced in March by the South African government, I knew problems were headed our way based on the number of cancellations we were getting.
Right away I put plans in place to ensure that Country and Coastal Touring and I would survive an entire year of lockdown if it came to that – it’ll be close, but it’s doable.
So right now, Country and Coastal Touring is in hibernation mode – that is, we’re not conducting tours until 2021.
We will still be taking bookings and have, and we will be updating our terms and conditions to ensure that both Country and Coastal Touring and our guests will be protected from cancelled bookings relating to Covid-19.
Here’s a list of changes we’ll be making for when I am able to start conducting tours again.
Tour Group Size
Although I haven’t done it much in the past, I will not be joining bookings together. That means that if you and your partner or family book a tour, it will only be you and your partner and family. We will not add any other individuals to your tour. We will also not add any extra charges at all – the usual rates will apply.
We are sticking to our larger vehicles to ensure there is social distancing in place. That means I will continue to use only 7-seater or 10-seater vehicles. Currently in South Africa the rules are that only 70% of the seats in a vehicle may be occupied – we’ll ensure you family or group is in the right sized vehicle.
It’s interesting that we used to already sanitize and clean our vehicle after every tour to ensure that I or the other guides didn’t pick or pass on colds and flu. I’ll be taking this to a new level, and ensuring that we use a misting spray and will have on hand new masks and hand sanitizers for all guests, every day.
I work pretty closely with our accommodation providers as it is, but I’ll be looking to further ensure that all accommodation is properly sanitized as are related sites such as restaurants or activities.
There are other changes I am considering, from having more outdoor activities on tours, to putting together more picnics and home cooked meals in order to avoid potential hot spots in restaurants, to even offering a new insurance product to cover visitors should a venue be closed due to covid19.
What About the Next Few Months?
I love tourism, and I love my part of the world, KwaZulu-Natal. And although it’s not the prettiest city out there, I love Durban. So for the next few months I will be promoting everything I can about KwaZulu-Natal and Durban. Some of the ideas;
Special Deals on Tours
I know first hand how heroic our front line workers were and continue to be as this pandemic moves on. I know how hard families have had it and how much they will still continue to struggle for some time to come.
As a way to thank you, to say that we, I, appreciate your work and your efforts, I will be introducing a range of tours prices at cost. I will make no money on those tours, and you will have an opportunity to enjoy the best vacation experience at a price that will never be repeated.
Podcast series on KwaZulu-Natal
I have already recorded the very first episode of a podcast series called “Exploring KwaZulu-Natal:, focusing on what to do, where to go and what to eat around KwaZulu-Natal. I’ve managed to convince a few travel bloggers to join some episodes which should be fun.
Podcast / YouTube Series on the Anglo Zulu War
This is going to be so much fun! I’m an expert guide on the Anglo Zulu War and have always looked forward to conducting tours to the the battlefields. This one I plan to start only next month (October) though.
All is Not Lost Then
Make no mistake, the next few months are not going to be easy. But if there’s anything I learnt over the years as a tour guide in South Africa, it’s that the worst will pass.
I truly believe that the world will be a better place in the years to come, and I hope that when things start changing for the better, that you will come out to South Africa and join me on an unforgettable, safe, vacation experience.
To all of you, stay safe, stay strong and above all, stay sane!