From 2020 Lockdown to 2024 Business as Usual

Looking back on the ‘lost years’ of Covid

The effect of Covid and Lockdown on global travel, tourism and accommodation sectors is well-known. But the specific effect on the second stage international travel bans might not be so familiar. International travel to and from South Africa had been limited severely for the whole of 2020 and most of 2021. In late November 2021 the South African scientists reported the Omicron virus to international scientists, and within 2 days the UK government closed all travel to and from South Africa with many international countries following suit. After much controversy about both the efficacy and the fairness of this decision, the ban was lifted: by the UK on 14 December 2021, by the US on 31st Dec 2021, by European, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern countries in January 2022, etc. But by this time, it was too late for the busy Christmas/mid-summer/December season in South Africa. The loss of a second high-season revenue opportunity had dire consequences for the already ailing local travel, tourism, food and beverage, transport and entertainment sectors.  Rosa of the Southern African Tourism Association was quoted in an article by Mendelson et al, published in the Lancet in December 2021. 

The latest travel ban [December 2021] has devastated family holiday plans and an industry. South Africa’s tourist industry contributes about ZAR82 billion (£3·77 billion) annually to the fiscus, by far the largest proportion coming from UK tourists.   Tourism and allied industries account for an estimated 1·5 million jobs and livelihoods in South Africa. 1 day after the UK’s travel red-listing of South Africa occurred, the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association did a survey of association members serving international markets. An average of 2506 cancellations had occurred among 603 respondents from tourist bookings they held over the next 4 months, representing 1·5 million cancellations in the first 48 h after the travel ban began, and 390 respondents reported ZAR940 million of lost revenue, an average of ZAR2·4 million each (Rosa N, Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, personal communication).

Many small businesses folded with knock-on consequences for the economy, for further unemployment, and for national morale.

But Liz at Lancaster survived it 

We somehow scraped through the desperate times of 2020 and 2021, and into much of 2022 with major spending cutbacks (which makes us sound like a large corporate entity); a small bail-out to the business from Government; top-up to staff salaries from the Government Temporary Employment Relief Fund [TERS]; injecting funds from Liz’s savings; and generous help from family who live overseas.  The Liz at Lancaster team all went onto a board and lodging basis, along with a stipend to cover dependents’ school fees etc. Thandie and Catherine’s income was supplemented by working on a daily basis for neighbours in the area whose commuting staff were locked-down.  Local travel began to slowly return to the new-normal during 2022 after strict local restrictions were lifted.

2022 – the year of catch up; 2023 the year of upgrades and improvements; and 2024 back to business as usual 

Beautiful clear water, fully potable with full filtration. Complete water security

2022 was a year of gradual “clawing back”, before major maintenance and upgrades to infrastructure in 2023. These included solar panels, inverter and battery back up in the public spaces, gas back-up for all solar geysers; as well as a completely self-sufficient water supply from a borehole and rainwater stored in large tanks. Several high-lying areas like Melville and Parktown had issues this last year with ‘throttling’ of water supply. One can make alternative plans for power outages, but lack of water is a different issue.  See our post on the upgrades. 

2024 looks to be a busy year with lots of international travelers coming to visit family and friends, tourists making the most of the South African currency exchange rate, and business travel continuing to increase as the work-from-home model shifts to a more hybrid model. No doubt there will be a lot of activity around election time (likely to be some time in May). 

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3 thoughts on “From 2020 Lockdown to 2024 Business as Usual

  1. Well done ! You have weathered the storm as well as helping your colleagues.
    It’s very wise to have both alternative power and water .
    Congratulations 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 and all the best for the future .

  2. Well done Liz 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
    You’ve weathered the storm and managed to look after your colleagues as well .
    Let’s hope we all sail into calmer waters .

  3. Congrats to you and your long-serving, faithful team – together you weathered that particular storm, and have clearly come out of it taking steps to reduce impacts to yourselves and your clients from an uncertain, ever-altering future.

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