Cape Town travel business owners think outside of the box, but fear closure if things don't change
Tjaart van der Walt, Fayrous Holliday-October and Tracy Branford were running successful travel and tourism businesses before the nationwide lockdown hit in late March.
The Cape Town locals were hit hard by the pandemic. Despite the odds against them, they are adapting to the pandemic the best way they can.
Van der Walt, the co-owner of Cape Town Bucketlist, a company that offers ocean adventures in the Mother City, said the company lost income for March, April and May.
“We host seal snorkelling and guided kayak tours. Our business on the seal snorkelling side is 80 percent international guests and 20 percent locals. With kayaking, the majority of our guests are locals.
“Up until March, we were having our best year to date since launching in 2015. However, that changed when lockdown started," he said.
He hopes that international travel will reopen soon.
“We are worried about when the international market will open again. While we do expect that locals will flood the activities, the pool of customers will be smaller as all service providers will be vying for the same market.
“The next two to three months will be interesting. We’re looking at creating an adventure club and partnering with other local businesses to provide deals for locals. It’s still in the early phases, but that’s our focus for now, " he said.
Holliday-October, a travel experiences designer at Halaal Hopper Experiences, has been in the tourism industry for 23 years.
Halaal Hopper was started in December 2018 after she and her husband identified a need for more representation in the halaal space. They soon started showcasing the heritage of the Cape Flats.
"When it was announced that we’d be going into lockdown, we were expecting 26 guests from Egypt. It was all confirmed and sorted on the last day, but we soon found out the borders in Egypt were closed, followed closely by ours. It was devastating, " she told IOL Travel.
The pandemic also took a toll on the community that they supported through the tours.
“The community misses that interaction. Everything fell apart and it was heartbreaking for us. I started helping my dad with packing and distributing food parcels for people with no income. We always do them for Ramadan, but our list was longer now. There’s no income to it, but you have to do good deeds along the way to help you get through the day. It’s back to the drawing board for us to do things differently. There is life after Covid-19, we just have to stay positive," she said.
Branford from events company Trunk Event had 14 weddings booked over March and April that were postponed.
"It’s been four months now and there is still little clarity about the wedding industry, which has resulted in couples rethinking how they move forward with their weddings.
“Many of our clients want their money back and they’re now planning small weddings at home. Without any new business, we are running at a loss.”
“Even though our events may be classified as social gatherings, we can put measures in place to avoid the risk of infection. This also impacts small businesses who help us as well as the tourism industry as 60 percent of the weddings that I plan are international clients," she said.