The unmatched beauty of the Chobe River, with its ever-breathtaking views that provide a panoramic view of nature undiluted and the charm of beautiful night life from well-appointed city hotels are no longer the only criteria for choosing destinations of travel. Safety and health protocols reign supreme as we approach a new age – the age of the smart traveler.
With the devastation of the international tourism industry in 2020 – hoteliers, academics and pracademics are still debating just how far the damage will be for the coming years. However, what is equally critical is just how much should today’s holiday maker adjust. Should there even be any travel at all in the upcoming festive holidays? Should Christmas be spent indoors with the same nuclear family? There is a limitation to just how much pleasure one may derive from images of past holidays and Pinterest artworks of places far and away.
We are in November. Exhaustion, fatigue and burn outs are a reality this time of the year. Sunday evenings present a whole new mental battle in preparation for another week of work. How much of that mental fatigue can be reversed by Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa’s well-manicured gardens in a haven of green and rich bodies of water? The crisp, fresh Chobe river air presents an allure akin to the magic majesty of the Victoria Falls not so far away. Just what is the right call in the current day?
The Tourism Management Journal (2020) in what is termed a ‘critical discussion agenda for tourism’ highlights an emerging paradigm of the smart traveler by pointing out critical areas for further study in order to promote the industry whilst promoting safety – these include interrogating changes in destination image as impacted by infections, change in tourist behavior and a change in residents’ behavior with regards to today’s challenges. This may include understanding the number of infections in any given area, health protocols, medical care, road access and the destination (hotel) commitment to safety; which are all now a critical part of the new way to travel.
This is one of the many frameworks being explored in diverse markets with global thinkers publishing and contributing new knowledge and ready to solve the world’s biggest enemy at the moment. With a template of one of the rare success stories against COVID-19, some countries are capitalizing on the health balance sheet to position themselves for the future. China is reported to be back to economic growth with fears of the pandemic having been squarely put on freeze button.
The tourism industry can pick a page from other areas such as sport. In some economies what is termed the ‘bubble’ concept is being explored in different sporting sectors. A COVID-19 free environment is created in the bubble by ensuring all participants are tested and kept within the safety bubble in order for athletes to compete in sports without fear of external environment contaminating the bubble. Their discomfort in this ‘tailored’ environment – a form of safe zone quarantine – is our pleasure as we watch on. Case in point the recently ended NBA season which saw Lebron James and Lakers lift the season spoils.
Hoteliers who are a front and centre of providing the safest of environments, will attract the smart traveler who will actively evaluate, interrogate and challenge the nature of the service beyond courtesy but into something much more critical – health and safety. It is the primary role of the hotelier to guarantee the best they can to ensure their environment is well protected. Equally, the business traveler and holiday-maker should take the requisite steps in protecting their own safety as well by following the same exacting standards hotels are being exposed to.
“This past Independence holiday we experienced a high number of domestic travelers in places such as Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa. Even before arrival, guests wanted assurance of the hygiene standards in our properties. Once we took them through our rigorous Standard Operating Procedure guidelines, this allayed their concerns and they checked in with us,” says Mokwena Morulane, CML’s Managing Director.
The smart traveler chooses properties that base their protocols on science and of course their sense of adventure.
“Our industry is continually disrupted by new trends, innovations, and ever- changing dynamics. Staying relevant to these emerging tourism trends can help keep the industry afloat. COVID-19 is one of the most significant challenges the tourism and hospitality sector has faced in decades. The latest trend in our industry that we have to swiftly catch up with, is the introduction of automation services so that guests and staff members experience a touchless experience which will reduce the touching of surfaces and spread of the COVID- 19 virus,” he notes.
Considering Cresta Hotels was one of the first hotels to adopt health protocols and hire expertise of medical professions before the spike of the virus in-country; their commitment to regulations and customer safety is a big winner for the smart traveler.
Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.
WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.
Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.
This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time. The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.
According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.
“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.
According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.
The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.
Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.
According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.
According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.
Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.
Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.
Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.
The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.
According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.
“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.
According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.
When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.
“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.
According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.
Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.
“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.
High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.