Focusing on South African tourism post-Covid in our online discussion series

In May 2020 as the world settled into facing the new reality of a completely disrupted tourism industry, we launched our new Johannesburg In Your Pocket panel discussion series. With this series we have opened the floor to our partners in the tourism and hospitality industry to discuss the challenges – and the opportunities – that have been posed by a future tourism landscape, one that will be very different from what we once knew.

From hotels to festivals, tour guides and restaurants, every sector of the tourism industry has been severely disrupted by the global pandemic. However, tourism is known for its resilience and inventiveness. We hustle, we pivot, we strive and we innovate. There is no one single way to ‘do tourism’. It is a shifting landscape.

This pandemic has allowed us the space to shift our thinking and find new ways of doing things, and there could not be a better time to share, discuss and and learn from the experiences of our peers.

Which is why we wanted to open out the regular discussions that we have been having with our partners in tourism and hospitality to a wider audience.

There’s no single ‘right’ way to navigate your business through a pandemic. Nobody has ever done this before, and quite honestly, nobody can really predict what will happen next.

What does it mean to pivot? How can virtual experiences complement ‘in real life’ ones? What are the lessons we can learn about ourselves, and our customers, as we navigate lockdown? What marketing achievements can be ‘won’ while everyone is at home? And of course, how can you prepare yourself as a business, or a future traveller, to make the most of that crucial moment when the world finally ‘unlocks’? Our sessions take on these questions and so much more.

Catch up on all our panel discussions

Our panel discussions are hosted live online via Zoom and you can register to join our panel discussion mailer here and get all the latest updates on our most recent talks and join in the discussion live online.

You can also catch up on previous discussions on our YouTube channel as well as here on our blog.

Episode 1: May 27, Life Inside A Quarantine Hotel

When tourism in South Africa went on hold as the nation shut its borders to go into a total lockdown, not every hotel closed its doors. Some remained open to act as ‘quarantine hotels’ for repatriated South Africans required to undergo two weeks of quarantine before they can return to their homes.

We kicked off the series with the team from Indaba Hotel, Spa & Conference Centre in Fourways, Johannesburg shedding light on what it is like to operate as a quarantine hotel. From establishing a ‘hotel health department’ to finding new ways to keep guests connected and comforted while they endure isolation, Sharon Hunink, Lumka Dhlabo, and Candice Geyser, talked us through the unique ‘pivoting’ their hotel has undergone.

You can also catch up on all the main talking points here on our blog.

Episode 2: June 8, How to add restaurants back to the menu?

When South Africa entered Level 5 of the nationwide on March 26, restaurants closed their doors with no indication of when – or how – they might reopen again. While restaurants are set to reopen in July for eat-in diners, the restaurant experience as we knew it will likely never be the same again.

David Higgs, chef and co-owner at Saint and Marble restaurants, Sakhumzi Maqubela owner of the famous Sakhumzi restaurant on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, and Saul Mervis, co-owner of The Grillhouse restaurants, shared their experiences of managing their businesses through lockdown and talked about what changes they the think the future holds for the restaurant industry after lockdown.

You can also catch up on all the main talking points here on our blog.

Episode 3: June 17, What’s a tour guide without tourists? Guiding through a locked-down city

Tour Guide businesses have been among the first to feel the sting of the global Coronavirus crisis. Since early March, weeks before South Africa’s lockdown, international tourism was already drying up and from the end of March the streets emptied as the world was forced to ‘Stayed At Home’.

We talked to Joburg tour guides; Gerald Garner and Charlie Moyo of JoburgPlaces, Kennedy Tembo of Microadventure Tours and Jo Buitendach of Past Experiences about connecting with the city and potential clients during lockdown, reaching out to domestic tourists ready to explore their own city and what new visitor experience trends might help Joburg market itself as a star attraction to the post-Covid traveller.

You can also catch up on all the main talking points here on our blog.

Episode 4: June 30, What’s a festival without a gathering?

Social distancing is now no longer a buzzword, it is a daily reality, which means large gatherings such as festivals, may well be off the cards for some time. This means that arts, culture and entertainment is now only accessible online, presenting, unique challenges and opportunities for the performing arts.

We talked to Rucera Seethal from the National Arts Festival MakhandaOsmic Menoe, of Back to the City Festival, promoter and DJ Kenzhero and Dawn Robertson, CEO of Constitution Hill, about what they have learned about navigating the new entirely digital cultural world, how they have maintained their audiences and reached out to new ones and what they think the festivals of the future might look like.

You can also catch up on all the main talking points here on our blog.

Episode 5: July 20, Domestic Tourism – Can it live up to expectations?

If there’s anything we can be sure of in the next stage of the tourism industry’s response to the pandemic fallout, it is that growing domestic tourism is of vital importance. But how has domestic tourism previously lived up to its great potential and what potential is there to grow new previously under-represented local markets? How might destinations need to adjust their approach to attract more domestic tourists and what needs to be done to make underdeveloped destinations like townships and dorpies more attractive to domestic travellers?

In this lively episode we talked to Sisa Ntshona, CEO of SA Tourism, and some of South Africa’s top domestic tourism travel writers and bloggers; Jared Ruttenberg (Jared in Cape Town), Senzelwe Mthembu (Senz M, Lived Travel Experience) and Heather Mason (2Summers), about their thoughts on the future growth of the South African domestic tourism market.

Episode 6: Oct 13, What’s next for Soweto’s tourism story?

In this era of potential reset we are turning the spotlight to Soweto to ask how do we engage a domestic audience for Soweto and township tourism in general? What needs to happen to change visitor behaviour and make tourists stayover rather than simply visiting for a few hours? What is the potential for packaging Soweto as not only an unchanging place locked in history, but a hub for creativity, conservation and contemporary culture? How do we honour Soweto’s past and celebrate its present and potential future? 

Joining us at the online panel discussion: Sisa Ntshona, CEO of SA Tourism, Social activist, Soweto Theatre GM and founder of #FunkItImWalking Nomsa Mazwai (Nomisupasta), Soweto birding guide Raymond Rampolokeng, co-founder of cafe-bar and venue Native Rebels Mmasechaba Nonyane and tourism pioneer Lebo Malepa of Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers.

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