A newly formed platform is bringing some relief to members of the travel and tourism industries who have had their income severely diminished or wiped out entirely as a result of COVID-19.
The brainchild of Evi Moller, sales manager of Seasons in Africa, and Christeen Tait, MD of World Travel Connection and founder of Ask Chris, the We Support group on Facebook has given members of the industry a platform to promote their ‘side-hustles’.
Moller told Tourism Update the group originated from another Facebook group she started, the Travel Knowledge group, to keep the idea of travel alive by encouraging people to share information about beautiful destinations, and offering training programmes to help members increase their product and destination knowledge.
She said she saw more and more members of the industry hustling to make ends meet. “I called Chris and said what if we can make a platform to give everyone a place where they can advertise what they are selling,” she said. “It was pretty amazing to see how creative people can get during lockdown and how creative travel people are.”
The group has amassed near 2 500 members and has people selling everything from PPE to make-up and perfume, from olive oils to platters and baked goods to crocheted dolls. “You don’t actually have to go anywhere else,” said Moller.
To see what’s on offer, visit the We Support Facebook group.
After seeing a post from someone in the industry pleading for help, the two women, along with Monica Ferreira, owner of 4Cruises and Cruisemasters, recently took things one step further by starting a third group, ‘We Support Gives Back’, dedicated to providing financial relief to members of the industry in need.
Moller pointed out that one post pleading for money can go viral, whereas a consolidated group can help distribute funds to everyone in need. The group is not registered as an NGO but works on a trust basis.
Having worked at an NGO, Moller said she was quite strict about what is given out. “We want people to enable themselves,” she said. “The question we ask is: ‘Are you able to create, make, or bake?’. If they are able to bake, we’ll buy them the ingredients. If they can create something, we will buy them the beading to create jewellery, or whatever it is.”
At the moment the group is raising money to replace a broken chainsaw for a member whose side-hustle is selling wood. So far, the group has raised about R9 000 to give to members of the industry in need.”