You’re going to start seeing a lot less of those beautiful exotic beach sunset pics on your Instagram feed these days … What the coronavirus means for SA’s travel influencers, my commentary and contribution for Traveller24.
It’s a scary time for many industries as restrictions are put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus – and this has been especially felt by those in the travel industry. Some influencers – especially in the travel sphere – have continued business as normal, filling Instagram with the usual travel inspiration. But according to Bloomberg, many new posts are old photos as their partnership trips keep getting cancelled.
The South African tourism industry is also taking a hit, especially after President Cyril Ramaphosa instituted travel restrictions, and with it the livelihoods of local travel influencers and writers are also jeopardised. Beyond their social media presence, some also work as tour guides and have experienced a few cancellations.
My comments … As I write this, I have a scratchy throat and the sniffles, and despite the fact that a change in season is almost certainly to blame, I cannot help but be nervous. For my health and that of the more vulnerable people around me, especially in South Africa where most of the population doesn’t have access to good healthcare or clean running water for that essential hand washing.
The past weeks have closed in on the world in an unfamiliar way that has brought much re-evaluating of choices and seen sometimes warlike precautions being enforced by governments as they do all that they can to protect their citizens – and the further spread of the ever-threatening COVID-19. I agree with these measures, but they come at a price.
Personally, as a travel writer and blogger that works part-time in tour operating, I am feeling the impact on my beloved industry and the very real ramifications caused by client cancellations. As companies reassess their revised bottom lines, retrenchments, hotel closures and strain on restaurants is having a far-reaching snowball effect on the country’s economy and global markets and I too fear for my livelihood.
I have just cancelled a much-anticipated trip to Tasmania, putting all other travel on hold as we wait out the severity of the situation. But how do I keep making a living?
With lockdown I have no doubt that there will be much reading of magazines, blogs and books – many with a travel theme as people continue to dream about the next trip they will take ‘when this is all over’ – and on the back of that I will continue to write and share. But the narrative needs to change.
The days of shamelessly promoting my travels are over, and the way we look at travel, the messaging, the reminder of the fragility of the world and the impact that our movement has on the places and communities that we visit needs to be at the forefront.
As a long-standing advocate for conscious travel, my work will continue, even if the volume of opportunities drastically declines – and COVID-19 will likely be the catalyst that brings about much-needed re-evaluation and a focus on more sustainable experiences. Be safe, everybody.
It is a time to reflect, rethink and redefine the way we travel – and more so, the way we promote it.