Few industries were hit as hard by the COVID-19 pandemic than those in tourism and hospitality. With travel bans instituted across the globe, airline operations ground to a halt, service providers offering experiences in destination, could only look on as pre-booked groups cancelled, either because they were no longer allowed to travel or they were unwilling to in light of the virus spreading across the world.
Of course, it was no different for those in the accommodation sector, with hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering establishments hit just as hard. With guests scheduled to arrive in destination forced to cancel their bookings due to the ban on travel and others opting out of scheduled trip, the sector was hit hard and rooms were left empty.
Even before the mandatory national lockdown was announced on March 23, there will still a number of foreign nationals in the country, left in flux by the instability of the crisis, and many of them were unable to return to their countries due to restricted flights. There was a lot of initial uncertainty around international travel and many travellers were needing to seek alternate accommodation while in destination. With social distancing measures announced on March 15, foreign nationals were looking for options that would allow then to practice these measures in comfort. Government regulations stipulating that all arrivals from high risk countries, such as the United States of America and China, would have to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine also meant visitors needed options available to them.
Oena Groupe Properties was amongst the first to step up to the plate, offering what they termed an ‘Isolation Vacation’ at any one of the OENA group properties. The offer included a 30% discount for a minimum of a 10-day period. This made for an attractive option for foreign – and domestic – visitors looking to isolate for an extended period of time. Not only did it provide some much-needed relief for visitors, it also allowed for the properties to book rooms during a time of great uncertainty, particularly for the tourism and hospitality industry In South Africa.