Time to unwind

Take a sho’t left and catch the tourism bug

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From a romantic bae-cation in Mpumalanga to an adventurous bay-cation with besties in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africans may be pleasantly surprised by how easy, affordable and downright awesome it is to be a tourist in their own country.

For less than the price of a family takeaway meal, you can escape the rat race to venture out on a day trip or head out to a spontaneous weekend getaway. Even better – treat yourself to a longer and more leisurely break to reinvigorate and recharge body, mind and spirit.

We all deserve a chance to escape the daily grind every now and then, which is why South African Tourism has rebooted its long-running Sho’t Left campaign, aimed at getting more locals to explore their own amazing country.

The new campaign: “It’s your country – enjoy it, because nothing is more fun than a Sho’t Left” invites South Africans to pack their bags and sample the wonders of all nine provinces. It is about reminding South Africans that South Africa is theirs and that there are a whole lot of experiences to be enjoyed in this country.

South African Tourism is ramping up its drive to boost domestic tourism because many South Africans do not see themselves as being travellers in their own country. The new campaign inspires them that to take a Sho’t Left and shows them that, in fact, local travel can be simple and wallet-friendly – not to mention massive fun.

“Our people love their country and are keen to meet all the incredible people to learn from each other, but many still believe exploring South Africa is inaccessible and expensive,” explains Sisa Ntshona, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism.

“Different aspects of the campaign will show that it needn’t be difficult or expensive to travel around the country, and that anyone can do it.

Through the new campaign, we want to alleviate the fear of the unknown among would-be travellers and day-trippers.”

South African Tourism is aiming to add a million more domestic holiday trips and another four million foreign tourists as part of its “5-in-5” strategy to bolster tourism’s contribution to the economy by 2021. The newly revamped Sho’t Left campaign also promotes enticing local package deals on the Sho’t Left website www.shotleft.co.za – not just during peak holiday season but throughout the year and across all nine provinces.

This includes tucked-away “hidden gems” that may not be on the radar of most holidaymakers.

Packaged at various price points, these special deals are geared towards promoting and showcasing various affordable tourism experiences.

This, Ntshona, adds, will hopefully also address what is known as the “seasonality” of travel – trying to get people to travel outside peak periods, when places to stay and things to do are generally cheaper and less busy. Having guests throughout the year also makes tourism businesses and the jobs they support more sustainable, he points out.

“We believe we have a deal for every pocket and persuasion. Sho’t Left is a free platform for travel businesses to advertise their deals, a one-stop shop featuring small tourism businesses and places around the country that all South Africans simply must visit.

These are not only beautiful, but affordable too, and capture the true essence of our country. “From gravity-defying adventures to chilled-out beach time, from rootsy cultural encounters to going wild with the Big 5 (or even the Big 7), we really want to encourage locals to spread their wings and experience all of South Africa—it is, after all, their country and they must enjoy it!”

Experiences under R500

  • Experience Polokwane, city of stars: Embark on a day tour to meet the Pedi (Northern Sotho) people of Limpopo courtesy of Besty Travel, winner of the 2016 Lilizela Tourism Award for emerging tourism entrepreneur of the year. Visit www.shotleft.co.za or www.bestytravel.co.za.
  • Self-drive in the Lion and Safari Park: See lions and wild dogs (as well as zebra, giraffe and buck) up close in your own vehicle at the Lion and Safari Park, a large wilderness reserve just outside Johannesburg and Pretoria. Bring family and friends along and drive through the enclosures in your own time – or book a tour with an experienced guide. Visit www.shotleft.co.za or www.lionandsafaripark.com.
  • The unexpected Afrikaners: Join this two-and-a-half hour walking tour near the diamond-mining town of Cullinan where you’ll meet the Onverwacht community, have lunch at the home of the local Khoisan nduna (leader), visit the cemetery housing black soldiers who fought on the side of the Afrikaners during the Anglo-Boer War and hear fascinating historical stories about this unique community. Visit www.shotleft.co.za or www.tour2-0.com.
  • Garden Route beach getaway: Situated in Sedgefield in the Western Cape, the first official “slow town” (cittaslow) in Africa, the Afrovibe Beach House is the perfect destination for those seeking a relaxed, comfortable respite. It’s positioned just 80m from one of the most incredible stretches of shoreline on the Garden Route. Visit www.shotleft.co.za or www.afrovibe.co.za.

Five fun travel tips for exploring SA

  • Be spontaneous: Take out a map, draw a circle around a 100km radius, close your eyes and pick a random spot to head out to on a fun exploratory day trip. Bundle the kids into the car, pack lunch and snacks and head out into the wide and exciting unknown – you never know what unexpected jewels you may stumble upon.
  • Take a hike: It’s affordable and fun to explore our country’s exquisite, unspoilt natural sites. South Africa is dotted with scenic hiking trails. Then there’s also the option of camping, or glamping for those who love their mod cons as much as they do the great outdoors.
  • Take a road trip: Why not take a leisurely road trip? Travelling by road is a long-lost pleasure and it enables you to see the countryside at a relaxing pace while meeting fellow travellers
  • ·Be a cultural tourist: South Africa boasts a wealth of galleries, museums and historical sites packed with fascinating art and artefacts. There’s also any number of parks and botanical gardens to explore. Meet other fellow South Africans, sample their traditional food and bond.
  • Start a travel blog: Tired of snapping endless selfies and exploring countless amazing attractions with no creative outlet? Document your road-tripping adventures by creating your own travel blog through one of the free blogging sites.

Images courtesy of South African Tourism

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