Despite South African public electricity supplier, Eskom, implementing load shedding throughout the country, the tourism industry continues to operate, however some operators are experiencing slight delays in operations.
According to Collin Thaver, MD of Southern Africa 360, the South African tourism industry is currently experiencing slow response times due to load shedding, which has ultimately impacted operators’, agents’ and clients’ ability to check availabilities, make bookings and respond to queries.
International guests are asked to please be patient and understand that there are currently various stages of load shedding throughout the country – but that it will not hinder operations.
In order to minimise the disruption caused by Eskom, tourism service providers are putting various measures in place. Southern Africa 360, for example, has put a UPS unit in place. This allows the company to still stay online for up to two hours after a power shutdown; any disruptions longer than this means Southern Africa 360 faces downtime with regard to server access and telephone lines, explains Thaver.
Jenman African Safaris’ Cape Town office has a back-up power system in place that initiates when the power goes out; this ensures that the company’s PCs, Internet and phone systems run smoothly during scheduled load shedding. “Thus, response times are hardly affected. Also many of our agents make use of our agent portal and live bookings systems, which continue to operate regardless of whether we have power or not,” says Katja Quasdorf, CEO of Hideaways, Jenman African Safaris sister brand.
Thaver says the power disruption is being managed and that most tourism outlets have back-up generators to cope with this. “The disruption at operational level is not an issue.”
Thaver advises travellers to ensure they are aware of the load-shedding schedule in the area they are visiting, to avoid experiencing any unnecessary interruptions that could impact negatively on their holiday experience.
He says local municipalities are sending messages out online; tourism bodies are using social media to update visitors to their area or region; and Eskom has an updated online schedule where one can access load shedding schedules. Southern Africa 360 is currently using Facebook to update clients when experiencing downtime.
In closing, Thaver says: “It is business as normal, but response times are slower at times, and this may affect communication times and bring about delays that are beyond our control.” Like numerous other tourism players, Southern Africa 360 has put in place measures for its teams to work, with flexible times around this and are catching up after hours. “This does bring about some amount of relief but is not ideal,” he concludes.