Multistage Coastal Walkathon to Boost Domestic Tourism

Cape Town, 27 July 2021 – As South Africa battles the third wave of COVID-19 infections on adjusted alert level 3 restrictions and the associated impact on the livelihoods of South Africa’s tourism industry, there’s never been a greater need for innovative solutions to boost domestic tourism recovery.

The situation in tourism is dire, according to a report published by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA). Domestic leisure travel, which has been propping the sector up since the COVID crisis began, is subdued due to lower discretionary income as more people become unemployed or have their salaries cut. In addition, the curtailment of events such as festivals, mass participation sporting events, concerts and the like, is significantly impacting domestic leisure travel.

The TBCSA report indicates that hotel occupancies across the country for January 2021 were sitting at just 20% – this against 57% for the same month in the prior year – and at 23% lower rates. In the popular Western Cape Garden Route region, hotel occupancies dropped from 67% in December 2019 to 38% in the same peak-season month of 2020 and with 17% lower hotel room rates.

Innovative Solutions

Despite the dire situation depicted in the TBCSA report, there are a few innovative projects afoot that aim to boost domestic tourism recovery, specifically in the Western Cape. One such project being launched by Walk4Africa.org (W4A) – a member-driven, non-profit, collective of travel trade, media, conservation, and environmental members in 40 African coastal countries and ocean island states – will see the continents’ first ever multi-stage mass participation sporting event being convened from Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town.

Predicting demand for post-COVID-19 outdoor activities this year, W4A is launching the “Walk/Run/Ride 4 Animal Rescue” fundraiser event to coincide with Tourism Month and World Tourism Day (27 September). The event is being launched in two parts. The first part is comprised of a virtual event, taking place online from 01 July to 27 September, and caters to international, regional, and local tourists who can’t attend the physical event.  The physical event, from the 1st to 27th September 2021, caters for domestic tourists and aims to foster public wellness through mass outdoor participation along stretches of pristine beaches and coastal trails.

“The big idea behind these two events is to not only boost domestic tourism revenue for service providers in the Southern/Western Cape region, but also to raise much needed funds for animal welfare,” says Walk4Africa.org’s founder and event organiser, Desmond Langkilde. “Our target is to raise R1 million for our event beneficiaries, the Garden Route SPCA and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.”

Established in 1872, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the founding society of the SPCA movement in South Africa and is the oldest animal welfare organisation in the country. The Garden Route SPCA was formed when the George and Mossel Bay branches joined forces to combat animal cruelty in the region.

“We are excited to be nominated as Walk4Africa’s event beneficiary,” says Natasha Johannes, Fundraising Officer for the Cape of Good Hope SPCA. “Both of their events are certainly unique and, as far as I know, a first for the country. Considering that our core mandate is the prevention of cruelty to animals, it makes sense for the proceeds of an event of this size to go towards the department that is at the coalface of our prevention work. So, the event fundraising target of R1 million would directly translate to the rescue of 1 930 animals.”

W4A has also launched a third event, also in aid of animal welfare, but for Huskies in particular. Accompanied by his Siberian Husky, Jaxx, Langkilde will be walking the entire 800km distance from Plett to the V&A Waterfront to raise funds for a Cape Town based Husky Rescue organization known as Saviors Of Siberians (SOS). Their journey will begin from Plettenberg Bay on Friday 30 July 2021.

Virtual Walkathon

Online events have become the “new normal” since the advent of virus pandemic regulations. As a prelude to the physical event, what makes Walk For Africa’s SPCA Virtual Walkathon unique is the way that it ties-in with the aim of the physical event; to foster public wellness.

The concept is for participants to use their fitness device (watch, pedometer or heart rate monitor) to record their walk, run, ride, swim, hike, or gym workout. They do this by registering a free account on Strava.com to enable syncing of their device data records.

“We’ve plotted the entire 800km Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town route map in the Strava Walk For Africa Club Event dashboard and your activity will be ranked to determine the leaders,” says Langkilde. “When the virtual event closes on 27 September 2021, the top 10 leaderboard winners will be awarded accommodation or restaurant vouchers and invited to attend the physical event closing function at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.”

Tickets for the Virtual Walk/Run/Ride 4 Animal Rescue SPCA Fundraiser can be purchased at R350 per entry from Quicket.co.za. Regular SPCA donors can also enter by logging into the GivenGain crowdfunding platform.

Physical Walkathon

Entry for the Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town physical event will open in August 2021 and participants can enter for one day or for as many days as they would like to join. Pre-event registrations are now open (click here to access the form).

How much will it cost to participate? “We are still busy formalising supplier quotes and getting sponsors onboard so the fee structure may change,” says Langkilde. “At this stage of the event planning, the Day-Entry fee is R550 per person, which includes a donation to our beneficiary, goody bag, T-shirt, packed lunch, and bottled water, but excludes road transfer options.

“The Multi-Day Entry fee works out at about R750 per person, per day. This fee includes all Day-Entry benefits plus a 3-course seated dinner each evening and accommodation shuttle transport services, but excludes overnight accommodation, which can be booked direct with partner hotels, guesthouses, backpackers, and camp sites.”

Safety and economic impact

Safety and security issues are high priority concerns for domestic tourists, specifically with regard to COVID-19 safety. So, how does the organizer plan to reassure participants in this regard and what economic impact will the event have on the region?

“In compliance with WESGRO, our destination partner for the event, our service providers will all sign our COVID-19 Safety Plan Affidavit to confirm that they will adhere to regulations. In addition, we are contracting paramedic and private armed security services to act as first respondents in the unlikely event that any incidents do occur.

“In terms of economic impact, we estimate that the physical event will generate R1.26 million in direct bookings for the accommodation sector, R1.17 million for sundry suppliers, and R0.97 million for our beneficiaries. And these figures are based on just 51% of maximum daily entry limits (per alert level 2 restrictions of 250 people for outdoor events), and 40% of entrants booking overnight accommodation at an average room rate of R900 pp/pn,” says Langkilde.

What if the third wave of COVID-19 infections is not contained by September? Will the physical event proceed under the adjusted alert level 3 or 4 restrictions?

“Considering the importance of Tourism Month and SA Tourism’s Sho’t Left initiative, which aim to boost domestic tourism in the country, we’re hoping that won’t happen. However, if it does, we may have to postpone the physical event but we’ll make that decision before opening the online entry portal in August. In fact, that’s why we’ve launched the virtual event – to ensure that our fundraising effort delivers for our beneficiaries, regardless. Incidentally, we have been fielding so many questions about the event that we’ve created a Frequently Asked Questions page on our website. Hopefully, readers will find answers here,” concludes Langkilde.


Links:

Saviors Of Siberians (SOS) website: https://sosrescue.org.za/

SOS Crowdfunding Campaign: https://qkt.io/Walk4SOS

Walk4Africa website:

https://walk4africa.org/south-africa/

SPCA Cape of Good Hope website:

https://capespca.co.za/

TBCSA Report

https://tbcsa.travel/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/SAs-Tourism-industry-COVID-19-impacts-%E2%80%93-Feb2021.pdf

Virtual Event Tickets:

https://www.quicket.co.za/events/131844-virtual-walkrunride-4-animal-rescue-spca-fundraiser/#/

Strava Club Event:

https://www.strava.com/clubs/877551/group_events/897471

Physical Event Entry Form:

https://walk4africa.org/western-cape-pre-event-entry/

Frequently Asked Questions:

https://walk4africa.org/faq-plett-to-cape-town-event/

Physical Event Sponsor Pack:

https://walk4africa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Walk4Africa-Sponsor-Pack-2021.pdf

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