In 2021 Nick Buckland and his wife took a road trip around South Africa visiting many beautiful properties.  One of the objectives was to see how the industry had withstood the dark months of covid.  During this time, they interviewed many people that are employed in hospitality about their experiences and how they had survived.

What began to emerge was a story of hope and compassion.  Without exception industry stakeholders had done what they could to support their staff through this difficult time, bearing in mind that South Africa’s welfare system offered very little and government assistance took time to be put in place.  On many levels the burden really fell on civil society to care for each other.  And they did.

Please check out our interview with Freddy, who works in hospitality at Tswalu Private Game Reserve

Here is their story…..

During hard lockdown in 2020, Tswalu staff pledged monthly contributions towards a COVID Fund.  The employer matched these contributions.  Tswalu Staff were fortunate enough to still receive their income during lockdown and staff wanted to assist those in their community who has no income during lockdown.  The COVID Fund was established with the aim to provide support to the local community, especially those individuals who has lost their income due to lockdown and those who also were not beneficiaries from SASSA.  Many members of the community work informal and/or temporary jobs and during lockdown they had no income.

The local councillor and SAPS Community Liaison in Van Zylsrus identified households who were in dire need during that time.  We collaborated with the local farming community and church to procure items which we included in food parcels to these households.  The local farming community also donated meat and fresh produce.  The project ran for 6 months and in total over this period 1320 households benefitted.  Tswalu staff assisted the representatives from the local community to pack and distribute the parcels each month. This project ensured that no household in Van Zylsrus were without food during the lockdown period.

Freddy’s heart-warming story demonstrates that tourism isn’t just about big business, it’s an industry with a big heart too.

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