This CEO wants all holidays to be long weekends in South Africa
Low-cost airline FlySafair has drafted a proposal to change public holidays in South Africa to less disrupt the country’s work week.
The airline proposes that holidays falling in the middle of the week be moved to Friday or Monday. A day of observance would then serve to recognize the historical significance of those days if they fell on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
The proposal has been filed with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) for review. If it is well received by the organization, FlySafair hopes that this will initiate the lobbying process with the Ministry of Tourism to present the amendment to parliament.
“Our intention is in no way to diminish the importance of these historic days,” said Elmar Conradie, Managing Director of FlySafair. “Our aim would be to see how free time can be better used to benefit the tourism industry and encourage South Africans to travel again.”
According to the Bureau of Economic Research, nearly a million jobs have been lost in the tourism sector and its value chain since 2018. The sharp decline in the number of international visitors and domestic travel last year has also had a ripple effect on income and jobs.
Conradie said the change would also lead to a faster recovery of the travel and tourism industry and help its economic growth.
He pointed to the recent Heritage Day weekend in September, which saw an increase in local travel due to the long weekend and the easing of lockdown restrictions.
According to the municipality of eThekwini, 95% of accommodation establishments were full on Friday and Saturday evenings during the three-day weekend in September. This resulted in a direct expenditure of 107 million rand.
“FlySafair has found that there is a significant increase in bookings when a public holiday falls on a Monday or Friday. There is an increase of over 20% in the average number of passengers carried over a three-day weekend compared to public holidays alone.
“2020 was the year the trips were lost, and we’re doing everything we can to recover,” Conradie said. “But with this small change in the execution of public holidays, there is a chance that we can encourage South Africans to travel to their own backyards again.”
Read: Here’s a look at hotel occupancy rates in South Africa