More and more companies are supporting a proposal to change the public holiday for South Africa


A draft proposal to change how public holidays work in South Africa has received support from the country’s tourism industry, with companies saying the change will also help strengthen the economy.

First mentioned by the low cost airline FlySafair, the proposal would see holidays that fall in the middle of the week to be moved to Friday or Monday. A day of observance would then serve to recognize the historical significance of those days if they fell on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

The proposal has been filed with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) for review. If it is well received by the organization, FlySafair hopes it will initiate the lobbying process with the Ministry of Tourism to present the amendment to parliament.

“Our intention is in no way to diminish the importance of these historic days,” said Elmar Conradie, Managing Director of FlySafair. “Our aim would be to see how free time can be better used for the benefit of the tourism industry and encourage South Africans to travel again.”

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Dream Hotels & Resorts, which owns 21 accommodation properties across the country, backed the proposal before the TBCSA and said the move would be a significant boon to the struggling tourism economy.

“It’s no secret that long weekends favor domestic travel. If the foreign travel bans have taught us anything, it’s the importance of nurturing this market to ensure the survival of our industry, ”said Nick Dickson, Managing Director of Dream Hotels & Resorts.

“Aside from the boost this could give the tourism sector in South Africa, the concept of maximizing long weekends not only reduces midweek disruption, but also allows for extended holidays without having to use his days off. “

He added that similar efforts to move public holidays from midweek to Friday or Monday have already taken place in the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Japan. He said these case studies also form the basis of the proposal, which is currently under review by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

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“For example, May 1 will still be considered Workers’ Day, but the actual public holiday will fall on a Friday or Monday. Our holidays are largely centered around very important historical events, so giving these days the reverence they deserve is crucial.

“Once TBCSA approves the proposal, we hope to pressure the tourism ministry to bring the motion to parliament,” he said.

Additional benefits

Local accommodation booking site LekkeSlaap also provided support for the move, with the group noting that the change would benefit South African businesses as a whole and not just the tourism industry.

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He expects the change to improve productivity by avoiding a split work week, with a consolidated holiday as the weekend, which also results in a noticeable increase in business overall.

“LekkeSlaap received 30% more accommodation bookings for Heritage Day 2021, when that public holiday fell on a Friday, compared to the bookings we received when the same holiday fell on a Tuesday in 2019.

“While some travelers would consider using their annual leave to make the most of the holiday, a long weekend pushes even more people to book a getaway,” said Gerriline Fouché of the group.

While this is a slight change for the government, it is a big step forward for domestic travel and a great motivation for South Africans to continue to take advantage of the incredible domestic travel opportunities that the industry has to offer. has to offer, she said.

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