I was there, delighted to venture out of my home for the first time in over a month. Wrapped bags. Road trip playlist ready. A bottle of disinfectant hidden in my pocket.
The trip was exhausting. I was ready to take off my shoes and relax at my destination.
When we arrived, the guard at the gate sprayed our hands with disinfectant, opened the steel doors and let us in.
There was no temperature control and no questions related to Covid-19 were asked. Without thinking too much, we unloaded the car and followed our host to our tiny accommodation. When we arrived, sanitizers and hand basin were in the bathroom and in all public areas.
As there were only four guests, including myself, we felt comfortable. With our masks firmly attached to our faces, we enjoyed the sunset and dinner that evening.
The paranoia started to grow when we heard that other customers were checking in the next day. Eight more, the host told us. When we did our calculation, we realized that the accommodation would reach capacity the next day. Although the industry was allowed to operate at full capacity, our accommodation was confined.
There would not have been enough space to circulate in public spaces, which must be at 50% of their capacity at all times.
We raised the issue with the host the next morning and chose to leave a day early.
With the increase in Covid-19 cases in the country at the time, staying an extra night in full accommodation didn’t seem like a good idea. That, added to the lack of control at the finish, raised red flags.
Hold them accountable
Holidays are a luxury for many people. They spend months saving and take great pride in creating routes.
The fact that accommodation or any tourist business does not comply with the regulations is a cause for concern. I felt paranoid, scared and unsure of what to expect which ruined my overall experience.
Travel Savvy owner Jennifer Morris said accommodation establishments must adhere to Covid-19 security protocols.
âThe sooner South Africans work together to end the pandemic, the sooner we can all start enjoying all that our beautiful country has to offer again.
âWe all want to support the tourism industry right now, and we have to. However, we must prioritize hotels, guesthouses, B & Bs, lodges and cabins that strive to protect their guests and stop the pandemic in its tracks, âshe said.
Morris said establishments that falsely advertise they are Covid-safe and fail to enforce regulations should be held accountable.
âIf they don’t adhere to mask-wearing policies, social distancing, disinfection, temperature controls, tracking and traceability reports, and other basic protective measures, then they don’t. do not deserve to host guests.
âCustomers who are uncomfortable should first try to bring their concerns to the attention of accommodation management. If that doesn’t result in better compliance, customers should check and demand a refund for unused nights, citing “false advertising” or “breach of contract” under the Consumer Protection Act. In addition, any flagrant breach of Covid safety rules must be reported to the labor department, âshe advised.
According to Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, managing director of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), travelers can file complaints about Covid-19 non-compliance on the Travel Safe Eat Safe website.
“We want travelers to feel comfortable when exploring our country, and they should report any property non-compliance on the Travel Safe Eat Safe website,” he said.
Tshivhengwa said guests who find non-compliance in their accommodation may request a refund, depending on the terms and conditions of the reservation.
Clinton Moodley a chose to omit the name of the accommodation as he raised the issue with them.