The pandemic hasn't been easy on the tourism industry, with many lodges having to close down due to lack of travel demand. Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape was among those affected.
They were forced to close some of their luxury lodges, patiently hoping for the day when travel could resume to pre-Covid days.
While it has been a rather disastrous year and a half with national lockdowns and travel bans, the team at Shamwari continued to market their properties despite the adversities.
And, it seems, hard work has paid off, with the game reserve opening two more of its lodges to keep up with travel demand.
CEO Joe Cloete said the team's creativity helped Shamwari shine.
Last year, during level 5 lockdown, the reserve started Shamwari TV to showcase the reserve’s wildlife.
Andrew Kearney, a ranger manager and the brainchild of the series, filmed virtual game drives on his cellphone.
The series developed into a series of professionally filmed episodes of Shamwari TV on YouTube.
“Shamwari TV has been a brilliant way to showcase the reserve and the experiences our guests can expect. Importantly, it also helped to keep us top-of-mind during the hard lockdown, when we were unable to accommodate guests," said Cloete.
They also developed themed weekends where they partnered with chefs and musicians to entice domestic guests and encourage them to book trips.
“We’re certainly going to continue hosting special events and have successfully piloted mountain biking safaris,” said Cloete.
The reserve reopened its tented camp Sindile and will reopen Bayethe tented lodge in December.
“After successive lockdowns, with the third wave abating, vaccination programme rolling out, and more airlines back in the skies, we’re hopeful that we’ll see some improvement in demand this coming summer. It’s important for us, but also important for the sector, because the longer it takes for us to get back in business, the harder it will be for South Africa to reclaim its place in a competitive global market,” added Cloete.