Dear past guest, future guest, potential guest, agents, suppliers and all our followers & fans. Wishing you all a happy new year and all the best for 2021. We all believe 2021 will be a great year and better than 2020. As of this month, January 2021, we’ve been operating tours for 15 years!
We are not going to lie, 2020 was a tough year and we are glad to leave it behind us. Many of our friends lost loved ones, lost their jobs and some lost faith in humanity. In a blink of an eye the world went upside down.
As owners of a small business, one of our proudest and most satisfying achievements is to give people an opportunity in life – employment and education. We have always been blessed with the best staff and we all have so much fun together. In January 2020 we had a staff get together; we had a great day on a wine farm celebrating our achievements of 2019. Everything was so positive and we were so excited for a good year ahead. We were in for a big surprise!
During 2020 I had to retrench some of our permanent staff for our small tour business to survive. I’m not shy to say, this made me cry. It took me days to get enough courage together to pick up the phone, we were in hard lockdown, so I could not even see them in person, I had to phone them. To tell young women, who are doing an outstanding job and have so much potential, people who love their job and people with so much dedication for your brand, that you do not have work for them anymore, was by far the worst moment of my tourism career. January 2020, we were a team of 17. Out of the 17, 6 permanently employed and the rest freelance tour guides. Today, January 2021 we are only 3 permanent staff 🙁 In 2021 we want to turn this around and offer employment and education once again, we want to change and contribute to lives!
Another low point of 2020 was not being able to visit our suppliers on a weekly basis. We’ve been working with most of our suppliers every week of the year, for the last 15 years. They are like family friends to us and their accommodation like second homes to our guides. Our relationship with our suppliers is real and far beyond a business relationship. This is a relationship with a family, a real person, not some big corporate conglomerate.
One big and unexpected positive development of 2020 that recharged and motivated us, was being named one of the Top 10 Tour Operators in the WORLD, by TripAdvisor. Some positive news, amidst all the madness, that was much needed and appreciated.
Contributing to South Africa
Chrissy and I often sit together and ponder about what we could do to give back to South Africa. What can we do to support the local people and conservation of our country? We have made many small contributions over the years, from providing education and training, to planting trees to offset our carbon footprint, to handing out Christmas presents in less fortunate areas, and attending charity events. However we both agree that giving our lives and hearts to running a successful and sustainable small business is the biggest contribution we can make to our country, its people and the environment. By offering our tours to international guests, we bring much needed foreign currency into our country, thereby creating jobs and financially contributung to conservation.
When running our tours, we visit mostly off-the-beaten-track parts of South Africa where tourism has a big economic impact and provides jobs. We support small owner-run businesses, restaurants, activity operators, accommodation and we visit National Parks and nature reserves. We are not only changing the lives of our travellers by offering a memorable tour, but we also have a positive economic impact in the areas we visit. When paying for a tour with Earthstompers, your money reaches far and wide.
The entrance we pay at the National Park helps protect our wildlife and fund conservation efforts, the meal we have at a small country restaurant puts a meal on the table of a waiter and kitchen staff, the bed you sleep in on tour pays for the education of a housekeeper’s child! This was all missing in 2020, as we only did about 25% of our usual business in 2020, due to COVID-19 (thanks to a busy January, February and March 2020). We are sad to say, a few of our service providers did not make it through the year and had to close their doors, many people employed in tourism do not have a job anymore and are desperately awaiting the return of tourism in South Africa. In 2021 we want to make up for it, we want to get the guides on the road again and get back to positively contributing to South Africa.
We remain excited and positive for what 2021 will bring us. We would encourage all guests that have postponed their tours, cancelled their tours or people thinking of visiting our beautiful country and joining any of our tours, to do so when it is safe to travel again. Book your tour, activity, accommodation directly with the establishment. Support small local businesses, these guys need you now more than ever and you can be the difference. We are ready to welcome you back.
Be kind, stay safe and stay healthy.
Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa
Hendrik and Chrissy (Owners) and Cindy (Manager)