Nobody could have predicted at the start of 2020, that a little-known virus called Covid-19 would be lurking on the horizon, about to deal a devastating economic blow.

When it snuck across our borders more than four months ago, it brought with it an unprecedented global ban on travel and tourism. With flights grounded and borders closed, travel came to a resounding halt, and along with it, the livelihood of millions of people.

With everyone being urged to #staysafe and #stayhome, those who rely on the hospitality sector to survive have been left to wonder what their industry will look like on the other side, and if it would even still be standing when the corona-dust settles?

Some have taken to lobbying government and others have participated in public demonstrations – the most recent of which was last week’s peaceful #ServeUsPlease protest.

“It’s no secret that many businesses in the hospitality industry are facing severe job losses and closure. And, whilst taking to the streets is a wonderful way to create awareness and call for change; it will be in vain if we do not rally the support of our fellow South Africans,”  says Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group Hotel and Resorts.

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He adds that even the smallest of gestures could potentially help your favourite getaway spot stay open, keep a person employed for longer or put food on the table for a family. “As the Dalai Lama says ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.’”

READ MORE: Award-winning restaurant owner pens emotional letter to President Ramaphosa 

He offers 5 easy ways that you can help the hospitality industry weather the Covid-storm:

1. Book now, travel later

If you can, take advantage of the fabulous specials that many hotels and resorts are offering to guests who book and pay in advance. Plus, you can secure your 2021 travel at a great rate for a later date.

READ MORE: Road tripping across SA: Travel inspo for your first post-lockdown holiday 

2. Take a day trip

Support your local resorts by making use of their facilities (like the health spa, golf course or restaurant), if they’re already open. You will not only be making a difference, you will also reap the benefits of some much-needed R&R!

3. Give them a shout out on social media

Don’t underestimate the power of your support by sharing, liking and following your favourite holiday destinations on social media. This does not cost you anything, but your time. And, by following their pages, you’ll also be the first to know about their great offers, and you’ll be able to share these specials deals with your network. Finally, if you’ve had a great experience in the past, take the time to write an awesome review on their page.

PICS: Thousands join peaceful protest over restaurant industry jobs “bloodbath” #JobsSaveLives

4. Don’t haggle, and be kind

Tourism has had a really rough ride, so if possible, don’t haggle for a better deal. Also, be kind to the staff when you do visit their establishments, or make use of their services, remember they’re under huge pressure to ensure you have a great time, regardless of the strict new measures they’ve had to put in place.

5. Buy a voucher for friends and family

Think outside the box when it comes to gifts this year, and buy experiences rather than things. Why not consider an accommodation,  meal or spa voucher, which can be used in many instances over the next year or two?

“There’s no doubt that this pandemic will pass, and we’ll get back to normal – albeit a ‘new normal’. When that happens, let’s make sure that our hospitality industry doesn’t only survive, but it thrives. We live in a beautiful country, so support local,” Lamont concludes.

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