Travel | 26 Jun 2020 | By Sun International

What holidays will be like after the lockdown

The lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, brought South Africa to a virtual standstill. Locked down in our homes, conducting business by Zoom, and homeschooling our kids, we longed to eat out, have sundowner cocktails at our favourite restaurants, or go on holiday. President Cyril Ramaphosa has given the go-ahead for tourism and hospitality to resume operations. Still, it will take a while for the industry to get back to pre-lockdown levels. Here’s how travel and holidays are likely to change over the next couple of months. Spoiler alert: It’s not as bad as you think.

Hygiene will be the new standard when choosing hotels…

Remember how we used to select hotels on price, experiences or reviews? Since COVID-19, our approach to hygiene has changed. When we travel again, we’ll look for establishments which not only follow strict guidelines on hygiene but are transparent with their cleaning and sanitation protocols. “Health protocols that have been put in place, by Sun International hotels and other establishments, will make staying in a hotel safer than at your home,” says Graham Wood, COO for Hospitality at Sun International. “There will be a sharp focus on health and hygiene, and as such, Sun International’s COVID-19 protocols have been signed off by an independent epidemiologist.”

… But we’ll seek out authenticity and warmth

People are social beings, and social distancing has eroded the ease with which we connect with others. A lack of hugs and handshakes has us craving real human interaction. Think about it: After being doused with sanitiser when you arrive at a hotel or restaurant, and speaking to the concierge through a transparent partition, what will be the one thing that will make you feel welcome? A warm smile. After lockdown, we will seek out establishments that can still provide genuine warmth and a warm welcome, even with strict social distancing and hygiene protocols in place.

We’ll drive more because it will be safer and cheaper

With the uncertainty around the airline industry, road trips are going to make a big comeback. When looking for where to holiday, we’ll prefer places that are easily accessible by road. Accommodation in Durban such as Sibaya, and other self-drive destinations like Sun City Resort or Meropa in Limpopo will be very attractive. “Self-drive will be on the up, and generally, provinces like KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo that are big self-drive markets for Gauteng will be popular."

We’ll want to be with family – a lot

Multi-generational holidays, where the kids, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles are invited, will be more popular as we crave to reconnect with family we weren’t able to visit during the lockdown. Places such as Sun Vacation Club in Sun City Resort, which offers serviced self-catering apartments that sleep up to six adults will be ideal for big, fat family holidays in a safe and hygienic environment.  

Authentic experiences will trump “things”

Under lockdown, we learnt to thrive with less material things; therefore, we’ll seek destinations that move us. “Under lockdown, many people did a lot of self-reflection and came to understand what matters to them. We will want to travel again, but a little more authentically as opposed to a more material or luxury type of holiday,” says Graham.

We’re likely to look for holiday destinations that offer incredible natural beauty. Destinations such as Sun City Resort in the Pilanesberg National Park will come out tops, as will The Table Bay, the best hotel in Cape Town from which to explore the Cape’s dramatic beauty. We’ll also be drawn to holidays in the South Coast to experience the unspoiled beaches of Port Edward or the majesty of the Mtamvuna River.

The best news: Holidays will be more affordable!

When people lose confidence in travel and holidays, the industry has always responded by cutting prices, and we can expect the same after the lockdown. “There will be a lot of value for the consumer who is willing to travel soon after the lockdown ends or when government eases restrictions,” explains Graham. “The tourism value chain, from car hire, flights, B&Bs and Sun International Hotels will fight for a share of the domestic leisure market. There will be great special offers for consumers, especially if you have flexible travel dates and can travel midweek.”