South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana delivered his inaugural National Budget Speech in February and the tourism and hospitality industries were holding their breath for some positive news.
I had hoped the domestic and hospitality sectors would benefit from budget allocation – two industries in dire need of assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With minimal attention given to these two industries during the speech, the South African hospitality industry, is placing its hopes in the hands of digital nomads and business leisure travellers to kick it back into gear for a better year.
And, despite some green shoots, recovery is not nearly where it should be. As an industry and a country, we’re all still trying to recuperate from the prolonged effects of the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent restrictions on travel. While restrictions have been lifted and vaccination numbers increase, it’s still a long road to complete recovery.
Bleisure travellers (business and leisure) could potentially be the saving grace of the hospitality and tourism industries. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry suffered a massive blow in tourism numbers. While the future of the sector may have seemed bleak, creativity and innovative thinking have seen the digital nomad and business leisure traveller take full advantage of mixing business with pleasure.
How, you may ask? With the closure of offices, employees were given no other choice but to balance the work-from-home approach. Balancing productivity within your own space allows for more leisure, meaning quick getaways with your significant other, their families or some well-deserved ‘me’ time. There has been a notable trend with the increase of business travellers having extended holidays while signing off on deals.
If the travel and hospitality industries are recognised and prioritised, we need to find ways to accelerate the transformation of the sector to get to pre-COVID numbers again.
And for that to happen, we needed an allocated budget to hire skilled professionals and put various growth and safety initiatives in place.
Until then, we are putting all our hopes into the hands of the digital nomad and bleisure traveller to keep the hospitality industry afloat.