Dear friends in tourism & hospitality

By Renate Engelbrecht

Thu, Jul 23

I’ve worked in hospitality and tourism since just after school. I’ve loved dining and travelling all my life. Now, I write about it because it’s in my blood and I believe in its value – not just monetary, but also the experiences it creates, the memories it makes and how it puts South Africa front and centre when it comes to versatility and natural beauty.

My heart aches for each and every one in the tourism and hospitality sector during this COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. That includes people working on wine farms in South Africa, because you also play an important role in hospitality and tourism in our country.

I back you

I want you to know that I back you. I agree that #jobssavelives and I know that every restaurant, every guesthouse, every hotel, every guest farm, every wine farm and everyone else in the industry look after more than one family. I cannot do much, other than to back you on social media, on my blog and in my heart. I just want you to know that I feel for you and I know there are many others who also do.

Know your worth

In this time, I suspect that many working in the hospitality and tourism industry are tired, hopeless, scared and demotivated. I need you to know and to remember that what you do for the industry and for the country does not go unnoticed by your fellow countrymen. It might feel like government has forgotten about the industry and that they don’t realise your worth, but trust me when I say: Every time I wish for a breakaway, every time I long for a dinner with friends I realise your worth. I’ve worked in the industry before I started writing and I know the hours you put in and the salaries you get. I know hospitality is much more about serving than being acknowledged. I know tourism is often more about the experience you create than the income you generate. I know that even making wine (like preparing food) comes from the heart right from the start. You’re all for the people and now it feels like the people are not coming through for you. Just know that I see you and I know what made you want to be in the industry. It’s because of that, that I will always support hospitality and tourism. So, thank you. And, hang in there.

Look up

Whether you wait tables or whether you make wine; whether you work front of house or whether you hustle behind the scenes, you can be proud of your industry. Yes, the industry is on its knees, but it’s not because of bad management or tourists having bad experiences. In fact, people from all over the world cannot wait to set foot in South Africa again, because we’re authentic, they love our country’s versatility and we make damn good wine! So, look up and be proud. You’re part of one of South Africa’s biggest successes – something the whole world wants to experience and see.

Keep composure

Even though we might feel like shouting and screaming because it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening, it is important that we keep our composure. I’ve always been proud of the industry and the way its people are humble and willing to serve. It takes a certain personality and often a certain skill. We don’t scream and shout to get attention. We humbly prove our worth time and again and through that we earn respect. So, keep composure and keep doing what you do. Remember, the wheel is turning.

I wish you luck in this scary, unpredictable journey. I pray for wisdom in the industry. I hope for a quick recovery.


Renate Engelbrecht
Suitcase & Chardonnay

Photos taken at: Cape Karoo Ostrich Emporium; Tashas Brooklyn, Farm close to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve in the Western Cape.



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