Thursday, 26 March 2020 07:30

1000 Hills CTO Update - March 2020

Staying Indoors and Remaining Safe During the Lock Down Staying Indoors and Remaining Safe During the Lock Down Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

The South African government's response to the COVID-19 virus has been fast and drastic - something that is required to stop the spread of this new virus. While we all wait out the lock-down period mandated by government, we thought it would be a perfect time to update all our valued members on the current situation of the 1000 Hills CTO.

The past few weeks have seen unprecedented upheavals around the world thanks to the COVID-19 virus and, here in South Africa, our tourism industry has been struck like no other. For those that are in the accommodation sector, the tour operators and freelance guides, even those in allied industries such as coach hire, drivers etc, all have been affected by the countries response to COVID-19.

The 1000 Hills CTO management committee started off their term in December 2019 with a determination to promote the area of 1000 Hills and drive tourism into the area. 

The fact is with the looming shut down only hours away, all that passion and effort may seem to have been wasted. Projects started with nothing but good intentions have stalled and with the general uncertainty of what will come, some of these projects will be put on the “burner” so to speak.

Update on Existing Projects

WTM Africa and Indaba 2020

As I’m sure everyone knows by know, both these international trade shows have been postponed. It is unclear if these events will be hosted later in 2020, or if perhaps the events will simply “skip” 2020. The committee had intended to make a big splash as both events with the launch of a new map of 1000 Hills as well as the production and printing of a new “visitors guide”. This of course, will now have to wait until announcements are made; we will need to be ready for when these important trade shows happen.

1000 Hills Map Project

One of the big projects started this year was a new map of the 1000 Hills area to replace the old map that can still be found in the current “Visitor’s Guide”. This was to be one of the most impact projects to be undertaken this year with plans for a media launch and of course the inclusion of map in all marketing projects undertaken by the CTO.

The map projects continues and will shortly be finalized, although we will have to wait before the CTO can present the new map at any sort of function. 

The 1000 Hills Visitors Guide

As many of you are no doubt aware, Durban Tourism embarked on a re-design and re-print of the 1000 Hills Visitors Guide. Many of you will have dealt with Adrian who drew the short straw to drive this project forward and has done so admirably. It’s a huge disappointment to the entire committee and Adrian that this project has been been out on hold by Durban Tourism until further notice.

This does mean that for those that missed the cut off date to submit your ads, or submitted an ad that was incorrect, you now have an opportunity to resubmit. If you are able, take the time to re-design your ad and send into Adrian as before. If you need assistance with your ad, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The 1000 Hills Tourism Website

Another project that was started is an update of the current 1000 Hills website. Fortunately this project is actually nearing completion and will be finalised in the weeks to come. Whilst we fine-tune the design, we’ll start loading content on the site so that when this pandemic is over and visitors start to once again researching places to visit, the 1000 Hills will be prepared.

What You Can Do Over The Next Few Weeks

1. Keep An Eye On Official Government Media Channels

Right now many government spheres are putting together programs to assist small business. Rather than replying on unverified information, sign up to, or simply visit governmental website on a regular basis. Here are just some of our suggestions;

2. Update Your Website

Many of us have websites that need updating, they’ve probably been on the “to do” list for a long time but other priorities have gotten in the way. Consider taking time out of your day over the next 3 weeks and finally make those changes. Things to consider;

  • update contact details or opening times,
  • update the images on your websites,
  • ensure sites are SEO compliant.

3. Learn About SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

There has never been a better time than right now to learn more about SEO and how your business can benefit from good SEO practice. There are a number of online resources that can help you understand and implement good SEO habits. Check out these resources;

4. Signup and Complete a Course on Google Ads

One of the most effective advertising and marketing platforms available online is Google Ads. However it’s not an easy service to understand and use effectively. Fortunately there are many resources out there that will help you to understand how Google Ads works and guide you on putting together you very own Google Ad Campaign. These are my suggestions;

5. Join Industry Initiatives

The tourism industry relies on networking a great deal. Of course right now many countries are shut down however online groups have grown and are a fantastic way to join a world wide conversation and do a little networking. Some of my favourites are;

  • Travel Massive (https://travelmassive.com/) - this is a huge online community of travelers and bloggers. They often hold online events and webinars and welcome participation. Sign up and be a part of the conversation, connect with others and do a little networking. There is a local Durban chapter that you can sign up to
  • Matador Network (https://matadornetwork.com/) - Another great virtual space where you can post blogs, write about experiences and network.
  • There are many more sites (Thorntree, Girls Love Travel, Digital Nomads) that you can be a part of. However before you do, please take the time to read the rules of each group be posting!

 6. Write Some Blog Posts

Website blog posts are one of the most effective ways of ranking on Google searches and ensuring that visitors find you. Not convinced you’re a writer? Simply write as if you were have a conversation with a friend. And not sure of what topics you should write about? Here’s some advice;

  • Think about what keywords you would type into Google if you were about to research a trip. Some of the most common phrases might be “things to do” in the city or perhaps “what to do” in the city etc. Use these as starting points, some examples;
    • Our favorite activities in Durban
    • Where to go for the best curry in 1000 hills
    • Our recommends for family activities over a weekend in 1000 hills
    • 3 Romantic Weekend Getaways in 1000 Hills
  • Speak to family and friend, ask them what search phrases they would use (or have used) when planning trips.
  • If you have a relationship with previous guests, reach out to them and ask the same.

Blog posts are incredibly effective and driving traffic to your site and writing just one a month will give you an edge over competitors who do not write any at all! If writing blog posts is truly not your thing, you can pay for blog posts to be written on your behalf. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In Closing

The next weeks are for sure going to be difficult, but we have to remain positive and like many challenges that have come before, this will end. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home (stay sane) and keep working at it!

Shelldon

Hi! My name is Shelldon Wells and I'm a tour operator based in the Valley of 1000 Hills. Not only do I manage Country and Coastal Touring and take guests on tours, but I often write about the Valley of 1000 Hills as well as subjects such as the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, fly-fishing and more (I clearly do not own a TV!). It just so happens that for my sins I am also the Vice-Chairperson of the 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation (for 2020) and serve on a number of tourism related associations.

 

 Follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

https://www.cctouring.co.za

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