How to earn an income whilst waiting for tourism to open up as a result of Covid-19

Who would have thought 6 months ago that the world could come to a standstill and no travel and tourism would be allowed? Tourism in South Africa and in most countries in the world, has died. This means millions of people are without work and for the majority no form of income.

In South Africa, there is a tourism relief fund for a once off payment to help registered tourism companies. At the time of writing this blog, I don’t know of any who have received any payment from the fund. Freelancing tourist guides are not able to claim from this fund at the moment and most do not pay UIF so they can’t claim from TERS. There is something in the pipeline for freelance guides and the Department of Tourism is working on the criteria and process.

What can tourist guides do in the meantime to earn some sort of income and get financial relief?

Here are a few suggestions:

1. For financial relief you could :
• Apply for a 3 month ‘bond/debt holiday’ which means you don’t pay the bond and or other debit orders for 3 months.
• For provisional tax payers, you only need pay 15% of whatever is due in the next tax submission and then in
February 2021  another 50% and the rest to pay off by August 2021.
• Banks are offering COVID loans guaranteed by government with as little as 6% interest.

2. Start a home industry :
• Use a skill that you can offer to your community, for example baking bread, baking muffins, crunchies, banana
bread, milk tart, carrot cake, hot meals such as mac and cheese, lasagna, butter chicken etc. People seem to have
developed a craving for home baked and cooked food especially sweet treats and hot comfort meals.
• Many people have also taken up gardening so you could sell herbs and veggies in pots, or take cuttings from plants in your            garden and once rooted you can sell them.
• If you are good at home handiwork like fixing leaking roofs, mending gutters and other things that break in the house etc. you   could advertise your services to your neighbours and community. Charge less than others, be reliable and offer an excellent   service and you will make an income. People love employing other people from their community and it feels safer and more neighbourly.
• If you are good at sewing and crafts, make masks and shields and again sell for less than other places. As the schools open there is going to be a huge need for children size masks and shields.
• If you have a PDP and your vehicle has a permit, contact your local schools to offer transporting children to and from school. Set a very reasonable price and parents would rather use you than have to contemplate using taxis. They also would love someone from the neighbourhood that is known in the community. You can also offer this service on your local WhatsApp group, Facebook Market, etc. You could also offer this service to companies who have staff returning to work in your area.
• If you live near a university, offer a room for rent in your home if it is separate from the rest of your family. I’m sure students would feel safer in a home than in a large residence.
• If you have your own car, offer your services to companies that are doing deliveries as e-commerce has opened and restaurants are allowed to do deliveries.
• As a first aider and a responsible person able to manage people, you could offer your services as a carer for an elderly person who is not in an old age home or to look after children when the parents need to go back to work and the children are not yet back at school. There is a huge need in these two areas.

3. Start planning small trips for when domestic travel opens :
• When we are allowed cross border travel and stays, the domestic market will open especially for self-drive and self-catering stays. You could find places that are lovely, but also reasonable that you would recommend and put together 3-day stays in the local area. Include places to walk, ride a bike and hidden secrets to discover. You could offer your services as a daily guide giving commentary along the way. You would offer advice on the best take-away outlets in your area or restaurants doing food deliveries.
• Draw up an itinerary that you could market either on your website, Facebook page, Instagram or other suitable ‘free’ platforms.
• Guests need only pay a small deposit say 10%, so that not much is lost if the Lockdown level changes suddenly.
• People, especially young people, want to get out, have fun and just be in a different place. Think what would attract a young group in an area that you are familiar with so that it is personal and something they couldn’t do or wouldn’t know about themselves. Keep it relaxed and chilled as this is what will be attractive.

If you have other ideas to help tourist guides, please let us know.
We are here to help each other.


  1. Ernesto Cassarino 31/05/2020 Reply

    What a good idea to conduct guided tours of wonderful areas for local people and even entire families with young and old. I am a national tourist guide with good knowledge of the malutis mountains of Lesotho. I would propose a 3 day trip across the n/eastern part of the kingdom by entering through the small town of Fouriesburg and leaving through Sani Pass. This would be even more exciting between June and August if the peaks above 2800mt are covered in snow.

    • Author
      Julie Womack 15/09/2020 Reply

      All the best with your tours especially those designed for locals. Until International Tourism opens, we need to focus on the domestic market.

  2. Larni Vink 24/05/2020 Reply

    Hi Julie,

    Really some great ideas, I’ve not felt this as hard as my others as I live and work from Germany and only do 4-5 big tours a year! I managed one in February and then the world went mad and I’ve had to cancel two completely, postponed one until October and am still planning one for November. I’m sick to my stomach for the guides out there that are suffering and have lost so much. Even my youngest son who is the hospitality industry (Private Lodge) where he had just moved to is in a serious predicament at the moment! But he is being taken care of by the company so he’s safe for now. Just let the people know that guys in my position are feeling for them…I know what it’s like as a free-lance guide and this situation is stressful to say the least! Again thanks for the ideas and the moral support to those out there who desperately need it!

    • Author
      Julie Womack 15/09/2020 Reply

      All the best with your own ‘survival’ ideas. Until tourism, especially International Tourism, opens up we need to earn something. Concentrating on the domestic market is a great way forward.

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