The Western Cape's tourism drought continues

David Bullard says Covid-19 is proving to be a natural disaster without end


There was due to be a big family wedding next month. My nephew and his bride to be live in London and many of the invited guests would have been flying in from either the UK or parts of Europe. Like so many young South Africans, they were told long ago that their prospects for advancement in SA were severely limited due to the paleness of their complexions and the need for their employers to satisfy the ANC’s BEE quotas.

This despite having gained top marks in various professional qualifications. So they transferred their skills to the UK, were snapped up by companies eager to attract top talent and are doing very nicely thank you.

However, being South Africans they wanted to tie the knot in SA during summer so, after extensive research by the groom’s mother, a suitable wine farm wedding venue was found which could cater for at least 150 guests and would allow loud music after ten o’clock.

It was going to be quite a thrash and I was looking forward to it; particularly the party on the day before the wedding which would have given the guests a chance to get to know one another without all the formality of a wedding ceremony. But it is not to be sadly.

The plug was finally pulled in September when bride and groom realized that COVID was going to stick around longer than expected and make a mess of all sorts of plans. Bearing in mind the latest one month lockdown announced by Boris Johnson it turned out to be the right decision. Deposits having already been paid the wedding has been postponed to a yet to be determined future date.

The real problem with COVID is that there is no obvious end in sight. With a natural disaster like an earthquake or a volcano you know the depth of shit you’re in as soon as the molten lava runs through your living room. The same applies to a certain extent with a war and there is always the real prospect of peace talks and an end to hostilities.

However the invisible enemy of COVID offers no such guarantees as the UK and most of Europe are discovering to their immense cost. As the northern hemisphere goes into winter there is already talk of a third wave and a fourth wave and some sort of normality only returning next spring.

Even if that happens the world will have experienced an entire year of abnormality and job losses. Tourism has been virtually non-existent in most countries this year. People who rely on four months of tourism to fund themselves for the rest of the year are taking severe strain. That strain is already beginning to show in SA where we would have expected floods of foreign tourists and returning swallows by now.

I ran into the chef of one of our top rated restaurants the other day and he confirmed that business was shocking. This time last year if you hadn’t booked a table at his restaurant two months prior you would have stood no chance of getting in. Now you can wander in off the street and almost be assured of getting a table.

Other friends who run guest houses are also saying the only communications they are getting from their regular foreign visitors are cancellations of existing bookings. We may have rather optimistically opened our main airports to international visitors on October 1st but there has been a trickle of tourists at best.

Not only do people not want to get on an aircraft from Europe for a masked ten hour flight (on Qatar Airways you apparently have to wear both a mask and a face-shield if you are travelling economy) but they are also nervous about the ever changing quarantine rules when they return home.

There is a knock on effect on the property market too, particularly in the Western Cape where many foreigners own holiday homes, despite the ludicrous ANC visa requirement that they are only allowed 90 days to spend their foreign currency here before they have to leave SA and renew their visa. On some of our swankier security estates foreign owners have become distress sellers and are keen to dump their ‘investments’ at prices that are making their neighbours swallow hard.

It’s not uncommon for a property which would have sold for R6.5 million a year ago (in an already depressed property market) to sell for R4.7 million. This may be great news for local buyers but the reality is that the Western Cape makes plenty of money from the spending power of foreign visitors, whether resident or not. Without them we are in for a very lean tourist season indeed.

On the bright side though it does mean that there are some great deals to be had for local tourists. For example, instead of paying R38 000 per person per night at a game lodge in Sabi Sabi you can get in for a mere R11 000 I’m told.

Since I don’t anticipate that I will be travelling to Europe any time soon I am rationalizing that the money I am saving on an airfare and foreign accommodation can be better spent boosting the local hospitality industry. But R11 000 a day to watch animals kill other animals? No….I don’t think so. I’d rather tune into Wild Earth on YouTube thanks.


New Zealand has finally given the thumbs up to euthanasia after years of debate. As usual T’s & C’s apply and it really isn’t up to you whether you end your life. Firstly, you’ve got to be terminally ill with no more than six months of life expectancy left. Secondly, you’ve got to find a couple of doctors who are prepared to sign the form and, bearing in mind the Hippocratic oath they take, this may prove more difficult than it seems.

Thirdly, it has to be an “informed decision” which opens up all sorts of legal pitfalls. For example, if a greedy relative thinks that the current will isn’t too beneficial then what’s to stop him/her claiming unsound mind until the will is favourably updated? It all seems hugely stressful and I have a much better solution.

Firstly, calling it ‘assisted dying’ or euthanasia is far too emotive, particularly for religious zealots who feel they should tell you what to do. I would much prefer to refer to it as a considered exit strategy or a final farewell. Imagine if we could legally end our lives painlessly when things get too much.

Years ago when people asked me what I was doing now I was a ‘disgraced racist ex columnist’ I would joke that I was in a race with my savings to see which expired first. That joke has worn rather thin with the passing of time and the increased cost of electricity and I’ve worked out that I need to snuff it within the next ten years if I am to avoid shame, pain and penury.

So what better way than a huge party to say goodbye to friends followed by a lethal injection and the incinerator? I wouldn’t be a burden on the health service. I wouldn’t have to face the indignity of shuffling along a care-home corridor behind my zimmer frame.

I would be around at the final party to hear all the nice things people would have said about me had I died. And, best of all, I would have patriotically helped to contribute to the ANC’s dream of eradicating all tax paying and job creating white people.

There would obviously have to be rules. Anybody over 65 would qualify but you wouldn’t need to give a reason. You might be genuinely ill and in pain, fed up with COVID, fed up with corruption and cronyism, sick of Woke people telling you what to think, running low on funds to support your extravagant lifestyle or you may just want to leave the party early.

We’ve all overstayed our welcome at parties which had peaked a couple of hours earlier after the skinny dipping and regretted it. Life is no different and deciding when to leave should be a basic human right.

I foresee huge potential for the hospitality industry here. Now there are no weddings to arrange, well organized Fond Farewell parties could become the next big thing. And the obvious advantage is that the client won’t be around to complain after the event.