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As a child, Sara Essop often got lost in the pages of Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series. She would excitedly discover and explore new and strange lands at the top of the Faraway Tree with the children in the book. Now, as an adult, she still loves discovering and exploring exciting places around the world, albeit using more conventional travel methods.
“I’ve always loved travelling and writing, and I used to write articles on an ad-hoc basis over the years whenever inspiration struck me - but not that much as I was first busy studying, then working in a corporate, then being a mother”.
A few years ago, a popular South African website was looking for travel bloggers.
“Another benefit of blogging for me is that it is like keeping an online photo journal of the places I’ve travelled to as they can start becoming a bit of a blur after a while. I’ve been to 47 countries thus far and I enjoy reliving my travel memories with my family”.
Sara has been with her husband and two kids at their house in Johannesburg and is still working from home, as she normally does, going out to buy essentials only. Their government recently started allowing intra-provincial travel (within their own province/state) so the family have been out for hikes in local nature reserves.
Missing travelling during this time has been how Sara has mostly been affected along with website views and clicks gone down which most other travel bloggers have also experienced.
“If people are not travelling, they are not reading much about travel either. I’ve also had to become more creative in generating new content. And I’m using this time to update old articles for SEO purposes”.
Unfortunately, Sara’s thoughts on a changing business because of this are that the travel and tourism industry will not be able to withstand the economic impact and will close down. She believes that people will travel closer to home as international travel will become more expensive.
“Travel by road will become more popular than flying”.
We asked her thoughts on Ecotourism...
“The tourism industry is evolving to incorporate ecological trends and Eco-tourism is becoming increasingly important as more travellers realise the impact of travel on the environment. Responsible, ethical and environmentally-friendly travel is becoming more popular and many companies use their eco-tourism credentials as a selling point”.
As a traveller herself, Sara is pleased to witness an increasing number of businesses in the tourism industry adopting an eco-conscious approach.
“As the Native Americans believe, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children so let’s hand it to them in as pristine a condition as possible. I want my grandchildren to live in a world with its resources intact, a world where people are not exploited, a world where they can see wildlife in the flesh – not only in pictures because they have become extinct”.
Her advice to others in the tourism industry is to “Hang in there. This too shall pass”. She would encourage others to enjoy time at home and use it to develop new skills.
“If your income has been affected, explore your creativity and try to find alternate sources of income”.
As for our Country of Thailand, Sara has visited Phuket, Bangkok and Phang Nga Bay and really enjoyed them.
“The people in Thailand are among the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. I haven’t been to Koh Phangan yet but would love to visit someday”.