2020: The year best forgotten… or not!

Reflection is one of the greatest abilities of mankind, especially after a year like 2020 where everything went pear shaped in a matter of weeks. All the best laid plans for literally every person in the world took a tumble and many of us were like the proverbial deer caught in bright headlights. Daily livelihoods were suddenly threatened in a way most of us could never have imagined – and what lay ahead was the great unknown.

Looking back on my monthly ramblings from earlier in the year, it becomes apparent that we have endured a tsunami of unimaginable proportions in a region that is so reliant on tourism for survival. Nothing could have prepared us for what transpired and from April until October, each and every one of us involved in the tourism industry, directly or indirectly, experienced waves of bewildered emotions, frustration, concern and panic, as we watched our incomes waning in an alarming way.

We have seen shifts in the property market the likes of which may never be experienced by other generations in their lifetime. Every aspect of the market, whether short-term or long-term, residential or commercial rentals, sales, builds and renovations… you name it, it took a beating. Nightly and monthly rental rates took a complete dive and whilst this had a huge impact on many hosts’ ability to survive from month to month, it was a cleansing process which served many purposes.

Whilst recovering from this will take time and has left numerous casualties along the way, nothing can beat the survival instinct of people who have a will to succeed against all odds. The creativity displayed by local holiday rental hosts has been astounding, to say the least. Many people have used the forced ‘downtime’ to update their accommodations, rebrand their listings, refresh their linens, clear out their clutter. And in doing so, they have given themselves a clearer view of the world around them.

People’s motivations have changed and creative ideas have been put into action. The next round of tourists will experience a reignited eagerness in their hosts, all excited at the prospect of getting back to being the passionate hosts they are, welcoming guests who are longing to get away from their own stressful lives and to relax and unwind.

One development emanating from this year’s madness has been a sifting out of many of the below-par accommodation offerings. Some of these existed as an afterthought rather than as a strategic intent to provide a quality experience to tourists. The net result is that serious hosts who have embraced the tourism industry and act as knowledgeable and experienced guides to guests have survived the year. And so they should.

The true value of tourists has suddenly become important again and this is one of those positive aspects that comes out of a year like this. We all know how we react when something we have had for years is suddenly taken away from us and through that, we learn to appreciate everything so much more, and with a different level of understanding. Whilst there will always be the opportunists in all walks of life, a shake-up like 2020 forces us all to reassess what is important and what is not.

From discussions with many local hosts, it seems that bookings for the holiday season are at a very high level and while we might not see that many international tourists, it sure does look as though South Africans are planning on enjoying and supporting local. The fact that larger houses sleeping between 8 and 12 guests have had to reduce their rates quite dramatically has not deterred owner hosts from accepting the bookings. There is a general acceptance that “it is what it is” and better to be back in the swing of things than to be moping about lost rentals because of the market squeeze.

We are all hoping for a year-end that catapults the memories of 2020 into oblivion and sets the scene for a year of economic recovery, social reintegration and a bright light to head towards as we adjust our way of living for as long as may be necessary. As my last chirp for the year, I wish all The Village NEWS readers a spectacular festive season and extend CabinCare’s best wishes for a relaxing and inspiring start to 2021.