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May 2008

"Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves."
Carol Pearson

It's winter in South Africa! Which means specials, specials and more specials. We have noted a significant increase in visitors to our shores during the Green Season. Maybe it's because the prices are better, maybe cause the grass in the bush is short and viewing the Big Five seems to be easier, or maybe its just because this is simply the best time of the year to travel to Southern Africa, no big crowds and sunshine still to be had in KwaZulu Natal, Mozambique, Mauritius and Zanzibar (to mention a few).

Savanna Private Game Reserve in the famed Sabi Sands area is running an amazing special for the month of June, the rate is great, and we can highly recommend this lodge to all our valued guests. Their rates are fully inclusive of all meals, two game drives daily, drinks, even the laundry service is thrown in free of charge.
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Londo Lodge in Temba, Mozambique currently offers a lovely special — book 7 nights and pay for only 5. The Quirimbas in northern Mozambique might be the solution to all those who need a break from their hectic and sometimes stressful life. The lodge offers excellent diving, superb game-fishing, a lovely Spa in an authentic Indian Ocean bear-foot luxury environment. Their fully inclusive rate includes all meals, non motorized activities and transfers.
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We also have some amazing quick breakaway specials in the Cape Winelands areas, such as Helderberg, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. As the Southern Right Whales start making their way towards our shores, we are also able to offer some excellent specials in Hermanus and Gansbaai. For example, a three night package at Whale Sanctuary Lodge that would cost you the same per day in season!
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There's so much more to share, but this month I think it imperative that we take a moment to reflect on something serious, something that has been brewing in our truly special Rainbow Nation, something that I personally feel we at Road Travel should say something about...

The xenophobic violence that's hit our country in the last few days has saddened me, and although it may be understandable in a way (if you really think about it), it's not acceptable to me - and nor is it acceptable to the overwhelming majority of my fellow South Africans.

South Africa is the country that created some of the world's greatest conciliators, social activists and heroes. Conciliators like ex-president and political prisoner Nelson Mandela and Archbishop and 'Rabble Rouser for Peace,' Desmond Tutu. AIDS activists like Zackie Achmat and Edwin Cameron. Heroes like AIDS victim Nkosi Johnson and many, many more. And the many millions of small, unsung people - conciliators, social activists and heroes all - who have dedicated their lives to improving ours.

And did any of them ever stop to ask whether they should work for the common good ONLY because we're South Africans? No. Their question has always been: "are you human — like me?"

If you're thinking of visiting us, know that the overwhelming majority of South Africans - millions and millions and millions of us - want to welcome you. Because you are, like us, humans all.

South Africa has overcome bigger obstacles in the past; and as long as we remember the examples of the people who brought us democracy without putting us through a bloody civil war, we'll overcome this one too.

In the name of your humanity and mine, I condemn xenophobia, racism and all forms of intolerance.

A message to the tourism industry concerning current events in South Africa, from Mike Speed, president of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association.

"I am sure all of you have been watching with increasing concern, as I have, the television news bulletins that have been reporting on the current violence being experienced in South Africa. My message to you is that this violence has been confined to very specific areas, and has not affected popular tourism areas.

As usual, the news on television reports the truth — but not the whole truth. And some perceptions are being created concerning tourism that are most certainly not true.

  1. The South African tourism industry is very much open for business. We are all conducting business as usual, obviously with a special regard to client safety. The current unrest has been very localized and restricted to very limited and specific areas; mainstream tourism areas (including all airports) have NOT been affected, and it is very unlikely the will be.
  2. It is still safe to visit South Africa, with our vast array of attractions, wildlife and scenic beauty; and we all stand ready to welcome our guests with open arms. There is no need at this stage for anyone to cancel any tourism activity. It is sensible for us all to proceed cautiously, and keep informed on a daily basis regarding developments. In particular it would be sensible to proceed with caution with regard to township activities, and be sensitive to local developments. Whilst this xenophobic violence is a serious crisis, there is quite simply no need for blind panic and total doom and gloom in the tourism sector. And you can be confident in advising your partners and customers accordingly. Please go out and communicate this as widely and actively as possible.
  3. The South African government has today decided to deploy the army, the South African National Defense Force (SANDF), in areas where they are most needed. This is welcome news. The SANDF has a great deal of hard-won experience in handling situations of this kind, gained in its extensive work in peacekeeping in many countries. They are both well trained and well equipped to assist the police, who have already done good work and arrested many trouble  makers, and we are confident the SADF will very soon help to get the situation under control.

It is unacceptable to all decent South Africans that people should be persecuted in 2008 in this country because of their race or nationality. We, as an association and the inbound tourism industry, condemn in the strongest possible terms this appalling behavior — these mobs do  not represent us as South Africans, and our people demand that these thugs must be swiftly brought to justice. The police and army have the unreserved support of the vast majority of the population.

It would be a huge tragedy if all the hard work that has gone into marketing South Africa in recent years was to go to waste. Many of the people who have benefited from the growth in tourism are are enterprising ordinary people who have started their own small businesses, and they are the people who will suffer most from any downturn in tourism.

We ask you all, most sincerely, not to make any hasty decisions for future tourism plans until the situation is resolved. South Africa needs you, as her friends, to support the tourism industry in difficult times. Tourists do more good by coming to our country, and continuing to build our industry than they do by staying away. In Africa, everyone is a welcome guest."

So, with that off my chest, I can share another bit of absolutely random and some might say 'useless' information: Did you know that the bark and roots of the White Milkwood Tree can be used to cure broken bones, treat fevers and to dispel bad dreams? Well now you do ;-) It's time to plant that Milkwood in the backyard!

It has been a whirlwind trip these last few months, our faithful agents and wonderful clients have been very good to us. Winter is looking great, the year 2008 has been the best yet, and is only getting better! We at Road Travel remain positive about all things African, and will continue to spread the word and deliver the top quality service we always have. Wishing you all a fantabulous month ahead and we look forward to hearing from you again.

Kind Regards
The Road Travel Team

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