Local accommodation booking site, LekkeSlaap, has thrown its weight behind FlySafair’s appeal to the South African government to make all public holidays long weekends.
LekkeSlaap Head of Marketing, Gerriline Fouché, said the move would not only benefit FlySafair but the South African tourism industry as a whole.
“The tourism industry has had to find creative ways to rebuild its place in the South African economy after the severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This proposal by FlySafair is another example of how strategic thinking can help all tourism businesses move forward,” Fouché said.
She added that, aside from the benefits the move would bring to SA’s businesses at large, some of LekkeSlaap’s data showed that a public holiday, consolidated with a weekend, resulted in notably more business for the accommodation sector as well.
“LekkeSlaap received 30% more accommodation bookings for Heritage Day 2021, when this public holiday fell on a Friday, compared with the bookings we received when the same public holiday fell on a Tuesday in 2019. While some travellers would consider using their annual leave to make the most of the public holiday, a long weekend urges even more people to book a getaway,” highlighted Fouché.
While this is a small change for the government to make, she said LekkeSlaap believed it was a big step forward for domestic travel and a great motivator for travellers to continue to take advantage of the incredible domestic travel opportunities the sector had to offer.
Although supportive of the idea from a business perspective, some Tourism Update readers have expressed concern that the historical significance of these public holidays could be lost.
André Thomas, in a comment to Tourism Update, said: “Public holidays are created to remember or celebrate a particular event (Freedom Day or Christmas). They are not merely a day off. In the UK we already see that these days off are referred to only as a Bank Holiday – with not a moment´s thought given to why they have a long weekend.
“And yes, call me old-fashioned that we should spend at least a couple of minutes pondering WHY we have a day off. It really grates me that Heritage Day is now mainly celebrated as a commercial Braai Day. Are you really okay with Christmas being moved to the Monday or Friday that is nearest the 25th?”