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SA’s Public Holiday Bonanza – How vacations help the nation

South Africans look forward to a public holiday almost as much as they do to having permanent electricity again. The good news is that, between 1 April and 31 December 2023, there will be 11, but if people are clever about when they take their leave, they can extend these holidays by up to 33 days. By taking three days off this month, for example, they can net themselves an 11-day break – now that’s some Freedom Days.

“April is the ideal time for South Africans to take advantage of this holiday hack to see all that the country has to offer with a sho’t left – aka a trip not too far from home,” says Marli Schnetler, Head of Sales at, South Africa’s original daily deals website. “Whether you choose to escape to Empangeni or go glamping in Gqeberha, taking time off to be a tourist in your own country can be a win-win, both for the holidaymakers themselves and SA as a whole.”

Have a break, have a staycation

She points out that South Africans are amongst some of the hardest workers in the world, with a study by Ipsos Global and Reuters finding that 53% of the country’s working population are not taking their annual leave – eish! “Working continuously for extended periods without taking breaks could have detrimental impacts on people’s mental health and well-being. Shamestudies have even found that this can lead to health problems like increased anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, and alcohol and substance abuse which are so not ayoba.”

“Fortunately, research has revealed that even short vacations can have significant and immediate beneficial effects on stress and wellbeing and that these effects can still be detected up to 45 days post-vacation,” shares Schnetler. “Taking regular holidays might even save your life, with scientists finding correlations between this and reductions in health issues that can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes – talk about bang for your break.”

“Healthier employees are also happiermore productive, and absent less often, all of which contribute to their employer’s bottom line, and ultimately, the economy, especially with absenteeism costing the country around R12 billion to R16 billion per year, according to Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA),” she adds.

Local is lekker

“Staycationers can further benefit the economy, with tourism contributing 3,7% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – more than agriculture, utilities and construction – and employing over 1 million people,” says Schnetler. “Domestic tourism in particular has been identified as the anchor of the tourism industry with the Department of Tourism hoping to reignite local travel demand through its recovery efforts. This includes making it more cost-effective for South Africans across all affordability levels to see their country year-round while also ensuring that travel is made more efficient, safe and reliable. At the end of the day, if domestic tourism goes up so too will employment and economic growth – talk about vacation amplification!”

“In line with this, at least a quarter of South Africans are lus for a domestic holiday, with 43% basing their destination selection on value for money, while 23% are looking for a special offer or deal,” notes Schnetler. “Additionally, consumers are using e-commerce to find stay options that cater to these needs and are embracing e-commerce apps and sites like OneDayOnly to shop from wherever they are over SA’s 33-day holiday season.”

She concludes by saying that it’s time for South Africans to do their bit by putting the upcoming public holidays to good use. “Whether it’s a trip to the beach, a hike in the mountains, or a safari in the bush, there’s no better time to have a break and support the local tourism industry while doing so. Just think of unwinding these holidays as your democratic duty!”

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