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Tourism business beats COVID-19

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Innovative thinking and a willingness to change has helped a tourism business battered by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) stay afloat. Tourism business 1 000 Thrills saw an opportunity to expand its spa section when bookings from international clients took a dip because of COVID-19.

1 000 Thrills, based in the Valley of 1 000 Hills in KwaZulu-Natal, had to put its rural-township tourism experience – aimed at international tourists – on the back burner because of the closure of international borders.

Owner of 1 000 Thrills Nomcebo Langa (39) says they had to adapt their business, which primarily offers an authentic Zulu life experience, including the chance to visit a village’s induna and sangoma, enjoy traditional food and sleep in traditional huts.

She says the business now makes the majority of its money from spa treatments. Langa says the demand for massages and other spa treatments has grown because people are looking for therapeutic ways of dealing with COVID-19. 

The spa was not our primary area of business but we needed to adapt to survive, she says. “People have been locked in their home for months and they need help to cope with everything.”

With the country now having moved to Alert Level 2, Langa is looking forward to welcoming visitors again. She says they are revising their packages to focus on the South African market as the country’s borders remain closed.

The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector was felt as early as February. “As countries started going into lockdown in February, we went from being fully booked to having mass cancellations. Things got worse once the country went into lockdown.”

1 000 Thrills, which Langa started in 2017, currently employs 13 permanent staff members. Another 22 people are employed part-time during busy periods.

The growth of 1 000 Thrills would not have happened without the exposure gained from taking part in international tourism exhibitions. Langa says Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) funded trips to exhibitions in China, Russia and South Korea, which helped attract clients from all parts of the world.

Tourism businesses looking to benefit from TKZN’s programmes can call 031 366 7500 or email enquiries@zulu.org.za