The lifting of lockdown travel restrictions, under level 1 of the lockdown in South Africa, has led to an increase in bookings at previously overlooked accommodations in the Karoo. Picture: Supplied
The lifting of lockdown travel restrictions, under level 1 of the lockdown in South Africa, has led to an increase in bookings at previously overlooked accommodations in the Karoo. Picture: Supplied

Karoo guest house owner hopeful South Africans will explore off the beaten track once again

By Vuyolwethu Fundam Time of article published Apr 23, 2021

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The initial hard lockdown, implemented in March 2020, had us all suffering from cabin fever, and many businesses were left cash-strapped, with some having to close their doors as a result.

According to the owner of a small guest house in the Eastern Cape, the lifting of lockdown travel restrictions, under level 1 of the lockdown in South Africa, has led to an increase in bookings at previously overlooked accommodations in the Karoo.

Rene Vosloo, who is also an author at BrightRock, says she was amazed by the number of bookings her guest house received from people who were travelling within the country.

"It was interesting and uplifting to speak to families who had decided to explore their own country, rather than jetting off to an exotic international destination," Vosloo said.

People were spending one or two nights in each town, as they travelled from big cities to lesser-known locations.

They chose to explore, rather than burying their umbrella and cooler box in the sand in crowded summer holiday resorts, Vosloo said.

The unexpected number of bookings caught Vosloo on the back foot of planning, which meant running low on some supplies.

As with any small town, Vosloo found resourceful people who were willing to lend a hand, which in turn gave them business.

Needing extra hands and supplies proved to be beneficial to everyone involved.

Locals earned money through various positions that were filled for barmen, waitrons, horse handlers and fly-fishing guides.

Vosloo said the pandemic sparked the understanding that in all times of adversity, there are opportunities.

"Simply by visiting a place, by going there on vacation, you are changing lives without even knowing it," Vosloo explained.

"I truly hope that the hospitality people experienced from grateful establishments will encourage more people to consider travelling within our country, to visit destinations off the beaten track."

She hopes that guest houses, restaurants, and attractions would use the opportunity to source products and services locally, as well as hone their offerings to surprise and delight.

Her mission is to find people that celebrate the best of the local offerings and make a material difference in the lives of others, she said.

Learn more about Rene Vosloo’s story and the joys and challenges of life in the countryside on Karoobewoners on Tuesdays at 9pm on KykNET, channel 144 on DStv.

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