If you’ve had a chance to read My Journey to kickstarting my WHY and How to kickstart yourself in these COVID Times you’ve got an idea of how my head works. (“Good luck with that: “my husband would say!)

My thoughts are that if you understand your own WHY better and you’ve had time to process the incredible shock and trauma of having the world as we know it blow up like something out of a very scary Sci-Fi movie, you are a bit more ready to tackle the next important thing.

In the weeks and months after the initial COVID Lockdown we were completely bombarded with information. Government Media Statements, News Articles and crazy social media posts that frankly, caused the first Panic Attack I’d had in years.  We had to learn an entire new language of Government talk and protocols, we had to establish new contacts and networks of people who would supply verified and trustworthy information and of course then came the online meetings!

Webinar after webinar of important and smart people talking about Tourism and its future not only on a national level but the bigger international picture.

At some point I realised that I was now listening to debates.  Nobody really knew what was going to happen and when. At the very best the educated guesses by the scientists of what will happen with the virus were now being interpreted by industry experts while keeping an eye on what other countries where doing.  Of course, there were crucial things being discussed and excellent advice given. Things like the implications and interpretations of the Gazetted Regulations, designing of health Protocols and the various Relief funding options and how you could access them.

Interestingly the first option people started looking for was Funding and Grants, then looking at loans (but how the heck to pay it back if you don’t know if you have income?!) and many got the unpleasant shock that they did not meet the criteria or where not compliant. 

While the Industry was scrambling to understand the Criteria on the Funding options and frantically gathering the required documentation, I for one started realising that I had gaps in my Network. Who the heck do I ask about the UIF? I’m a one-woman business, so I’m not registered for UIF. Does that mean I’m not able to claim from the TERS-UIF fund? 

Some people I chatted to didn’t have the required Financial Statements, nor could they produce the 6 months bank statements for various reasons. Some had been operating their businesses as Sole Proprietors and couldn’t register with CIPC for the Essential Services Certificate.

Red tape, inadvertent non-compliance, the struggle through the quagmire of information, and technological challenges such as access to computers and Wi-Fi all contributed to the incredible sense of desolation and hopelessness that most Tourism Business owners where feeling. Coupled with the sense of responsibility towards staff and their families these owners were (and are) faced with, you start to recognise the stages of grief the Tourism Industry is going through. Front and centre and definitely NOT linear are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Many people I spoke to said that they tried to get help but in the end with all the frustrations and obstacles they “just gave up”

I don’t have the answers. I spent weeks sitting through those webinars, reading articles and watching TED Talks to help me understand what is happening and what I can do to make it better.  I then reached a stage where I realised that my head was full. So full that I was having a hard time processing what was actually happening. This is where I was able to stop and just breathe.  

Out of all the stuff floating in my head I started getting these questions that popped out of nowhere. They would float in and go and sit quietly in the back of my head. When things calmed down a bit, they would nudge at me until I was ready to face them.

These are by no means the 10 steps to success post COVID, but they are questions that led me to realise that there are things that I can control. Even if I don’t have the answers, I could reach out to someone who might have or who might know someone who does. 

While the smart people continue their endless and mammoth task of coming up with a Tourism Recovery plan for the entire industry it is prudent that you start with yourself. You might have more or even less questions, but these are the ones nudging at me. (And while these links are for South African based Companies, the principals remains the same wherever you are)

  1. Have you educated yourself?  
    • Do you know what the current Gazetted Regulations are, what you can and can’t do?
    • Are you keeping in touch with what is happening in your town, province, Nationally and International trends?

Be cautious of where you get your information and ensure that your information is up to date and verified.  Find a credible source such as https://www.satsa.com or https://tbcsa.travel/press-releases/ which will save you a ton of heartache and drama. This also helps you understand the bigger picture as they will keep you updated on burning issues…. and Press Releases are free!

Let’s now look at your own Tourism business

  1. Do you know what you’ve currently got in hand and is it possible to survive the next several months?
    • Think about your financial situation. Where you are right now and what are your responsibilities. Do you have a Financial Advisor or accountant that can give you advice? If not, who can you approach to give you guidance?
    • Think about your staff, what they need and what you can afford. How can you balance these two situations over the next coming months?
  1. Compliance
    • Do you have 6 months Bank Statements from your company? You can get the statements emailed to you on a monthly basis.  Just get into the habit of saving them in a file in your computer as they come in.  You can also get verified or stamped statements from most Banks if you are registered for Online Banking
    • Some of the banks now supply additional support. FNB has an Instant Accounting Service that pulls information directly from your FNB account https://www.fnb.co.za/business-banking/instant-Accounting-solutions/finance.html
    • Are you registered on the Central Supplier Database? It is a pretty straight forward and a very user friendly site with a helpful Call Centre if you should get stuck https://secure.csd.gov.za/Account/RegistrationProcess
    • Read through the required documents carefully, what else are they asking for that you might need in the future?
  1. What are the current, as well as potential, opportunities to start generating an income and is it viable to pursue?
    • Think about your expenses compared to the potential income.
    • Think about the staff requirements. How many staff will you need to operate at various levels?
    • Think about non-financial implications such as buildings standing empty, staff losing their jobs.
  1. When the sudden announcement came that Intra-Provincial travel is allowed, were you ready?