[image: Karoo Ridge Conservancy]
The South African tourism sector may never recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and some estimates predict that as many as 90 000 jobs will be lost in the next six months alone.
Even those numbers don’t tell the full story, and there is no way of knowing when we can once again safely welcome international visitors to our shores.
Conversely, many South Africans who used to holiday abroad may now look to explore our own country, as part of a travel trend that has been dubbed “low-viral tourism”.
One area being punted for a boom in visitor numbers is the Karoo, which has multiple sustainable development opportunities.
Talking with TimesLIVE, hydrogeologist, community activist and sustainable development practitioner Dr Stefan Cramer reckons the region will see a boom in business if it ticks a few boxes off:
“The coronavirus could herald a new wave of eco-tourism creating the potential for the Karoo to be marketed as a ‘low-viral’ destination, capitalising on its wide open spaces and isolated establishments.
“Customers will be warier of global travel and will be looking for safe and accessible domestic tourism targets.
“Many Karoo farms have already discovered agritourism as a valuable sideline business and this activity can be marketed much more efficiently.”
Working in parallel, with improved access to broadband internet services, small Karoo towns could also become attractive hubs for digital work, he said.
“There will be an acceleration of digital marketing channels and the Karoo needs to position itself for this change.”
As anybody who has visited Cabine du Cap will tell you, ‘off the grid’ living is lovely, but it never hurts to have some high-speed internet access just in case.
Cramer also pointed to the fact that load shedding won’t be going away any time soon, with business opportunities existing around the region’s vast potential for renewable energy.
February’s announcement by President Ramaphosa that South African municipalities should be able to ease their reliance on the Eskom grid, and purchase electricity from independent suppliers, is proof of this.
When South Africans are once again allowed to travel recreationally, holiday destinations reasonably close to bigger cities may see a sharp increase in visitors, as the idea of flying abroad becomes less appealing and economic realities set in.
Sadly, by then, many of the local restaurants and businesses that are the heart and soul of these places may have already shuttered their doors.
[imagesource: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)] It's been a long time coming, but ...
[imagesource: 3ab2ou] While it might seem like a good idea to pay something off on cred...
[imagesource: Ed Clemente / MGN] Wandering around a Walmart is quite something. The ...
[imagesource: Jeff Moore] Diamonds are commonly seen as symbols of love and commitment,...
[imagesource: Christine Olsson / Reuters] When it comes to long-distance running record...