Enjoying the epic views along the Otter Trail. 2021.

As South Africa loosens its Covid-19 restrictions now is the best time to visit. Even if it is your home.

The South African tourism industry will surely be breathing a little easier following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Sunday announcement that the country is starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel with a much-needed decline in Coid-19 infections through its third wave.

A recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) found the impact the pandemic has had over the country’s employment, with over 470,000 jobs lost due the lack of international travel. The sector’s contribution to the national economy fell from R363 billion (6.9%) in 2019, to just R182 billion (3.7%) in 2020.

Wave light, Otter Trail. 2021

The new adjusted alert level 2 lockdown means curfew starts one hour later at 11pm but still lasts until 4am in the morning. While it may not seem much, for the tourism industry, that has been one of the hardest hits since the Covid-19 outbreak.

This could be a positive sign of a ‘return to normal’ that could see many more people travelling as summer begins.

One of the biggest losses has been from the United Kingdom’s red list which was first introduced by the UK in May. Losses due to their international travel could be worth some R2.4 billion, equating to more than R26 million every single day.

If we are to be taking positives out of what has been an incredibly trying two years of lockdowns, it’s been the rise of local travel. From what has been an incredibly trying two years of travel restrictions, we as South Africans have been forced to look within our own borders to satisfy our wanderlust.

The bans on international travel have been a real blessing in disguise. I’ve travelled a lot in time as a photojournalist and I can tell you, some of the most unique and most pristine scenery in the world is right on our doorstep. Particularly along the world famous ‘Garden Route’ between Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Yellowwood Window

I’m very proud to say I’ve ticked several local bucket list destinations during SA lockdown, from the Wolfberg Arch to Robberg and most recently taken the opportunity to a enjoy multiday hike along the Otter Trail, one of the most famous hikes in Africa and one of the most beautiful treks in the world.

There are still a number of winter travel deals that are currently available, and I would encourage you to peruse the Sanparks and Cape Nature websites that are running Heritage month specials where you can get up to a 40% discount on accommodation and free day access, respectively.

There are very few places in the world where you can access raw, untouched nature and even fewer that offer the beauty and serenity of the Otter Trail.

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