Did Mandela Day (Saturday, 18 July) catch you unaware because of lockdown? The Mandela Day organisation encourages sustainable efforts to take action against poverty, not just 67 minutes on one day, but to take small steps to create long-term change.

As one of the hardest-hit sectors in the pandemic, the travel and tourism industries are still supporting 67 minutes, but more importantly, sustainable change. This year, more South Africans than ever are fighting an immediate pandemic of loss of livelihood, poverty and hunger. One in 22 citizens is employed in the tourism sector, so the industry is at the coalface of fighting for the balance of lives and livelihoods.

Here is how just a few travel leaders are responsibly supporting Mandela Day 2020 (and beyond):

Secret scarfs to warm up those in need
“We’re not able to do many of the initiatives we usually do each year so came up with an easy way all of us can safely and immediately help those in need around us,” says Roxy Gonsalves, Flight Centre Travel Group, Recruitment, Internal Communications and Brighter Futures Leader.

“Everyone can join us in our secret Scarf Mission. Leave a warm scarf tied around a tree, street pole or fence for anyone who may need it. Ensure they are clean and washed (consider popping the scarf in a plastic bag immediately after you have washed it, and after washing and sanitising your hands) to ensure it’s clean and safe for the recipient.”

Support the South Africa and #IamTourism movements
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa has reported that South Africa has lost more than R68 billion in tourism since the start of the lockdown in March. For a sector that supports 1.5 million direct jobs, this is devastating. The local tourism industry is unique in that it also employs 70% of women and 60% of youth.

The first to be affected and likely the last to be lifted out of lockdown, tourism has quite simply run out of runway, says Natalia Rosa, the founder of Big Ambitions, a specialist content, communications and marketing company, with a particular focus on association communications and the travel and tourism industry.

“We have heeded government’s call and de-risked the tourism sector to the extent that it will be among the safest to operate in the country. Get behind the South Africa is Travel Ready and #IAmTourism movements. With over 70% of women making up South Africa’s tourism sector, I’d like to call on all women to stand with us and show support for #IAmTourism. Submit a photo of yourself showing the message of #IAMTOURISM. The target is 3 000 images by Women’s Day, 9 August. You can email us and attach your image.”

Sign a petition

Support local hospitals and healthcare workers
Fancourt Estate in George is starting at home, supporting their local hospital and healthcare workers. Fancourt has donated sheets and duvet covers to George Hospital to be converted into doctors’ scrubs, as well as pillowcases which will be converted into masks as part of the #masks4george campaign.

“George Hospital staff, from the nurses, doctors and carers to everyone involved behind the scenes, are working tirelessly in the fight against Covid-19, and the #masks4george project will help vulnerable people in our community stay safe,” says Peter Dros, Sales & Marketing Director of Fancourt.

Food donations to the community
Other hotels have picked up the call to fight hunger in their communities. Cape Town’s The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel staff have delivered 67 food parcels for the children of Christel House in Ottery, Cape Town, for Mandela Day.

“We noticed that the team at Christel House were requesting additional supplies during Covid-19, which included food hampers, so our ‘Peninsula tribe’ stepped in to assist,” explains Chris Godenir, the General Manager of The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel.

“Each parcel was prepared under strict sanitary conditions and jam-packed with essential food items up to the value of R150 as additional support for the students and their families over the next month,” he adds.

“Those of us in the tourism sector are facing many challenges, and for our part, we want to do what we can, with what we have, to help to uplift those who are struggling. This Mandela Day, we wanted to share the belief that every person has the wisdom, individually and together, to find ways to help each other to make it through these difficult and tumultuous times.”

Some more quick and easy ideas for every individual to get on board with doing good:

  • Pack a food parcel.
  • Clean your home from top to bottom (keeping a careful lookout for warm clothing and blankets)to donate to an organisation in need.
  • Donate to a feeding scheme.
  • Plant a spekboom.