South Africa plans to enter Level 3 lockdown from the beginning of June. This comes with new challenges and opportunities. With 500-600,000 jobs at risk and a strain on the already struggling South African economy, it cannot get any worse if the sector needs to wait to return at level 1.
Tourism undoubtedly is the hardest hit sector and the UN Tourism body’s prediction a fortnight ago of staggering losses in 1.5 trillion losses in receipts equating 60-80% decline in international tourism confirms all is definitely not well with the ”People-to-People sector”.
In his last address to the citizens of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined string of measures his government has instituted to help contain, isolate and manage the ferocious Coronavirus.
One salient statement he made was how the continue lockdown of the country and economy was not sustainable. He went further to add that the country needs to open cautiously.
The Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane through webinars engaged with industry leaders and stakeholders about ways to ensure that the disruption to tourism activities is mitigated.
The announcement of the relief fund however little that it was, gave some glimpse of hope and cushion to suffering businesses.
The legal challenge which eventually was thrown out led to the delay of businesses needing the aide to survived the financial stress Covid-19 has brought on them. (Out of 13,000 applications received, 4,000 businesses will R50,000 per unit)
A collaborative industry report into the state of the tourism sector in South Africa by the Department of Tourism, the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group and South Africa’s Private sector umbrella body the Tourism Business Council (TBCSA) confirmed how dire the situation is and respondents fear a likely return to tourism only in level one will mean their hard work will come to not.
President Ramaphosa on Friday 22/05/20 at the instance of the industry stakeholders, convened a virtual meeting to look at how tourism can gradual come out of the quandary it find its self now.
Briefing the host of Cape Talk program, Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane gave an overview of the meeting and said, the sector made a case to the President on how to help de-risk the industry and put measures in place to ensure that all other protocols as outlined by the Health Department will be followed by the practitioners to begin start of the sector in the next level which start in June.
”What the sector propose for level 3 and improve the protocols including the health department and assure the stakeholders on how the industry will be responsible and committed towards opening tourism.
With the sector led by the able sector minister having presented their case to the head of state, it is expected that the government will consider the measures suggested to open up even if gradually a sector which contributes significantly to GDP and set it eventually for recovery.
The TBCSA document which set out measures to follow is already out and it’s a matter of June 1 to see some sub sectors of the industry return to semblance of normalcy.
It is imperative to state that the managers of the Destination, South African Tourism have been eliciting ideas /suggestions to help draft the new plan of strategies to ensure the country isn’t left out when the new normal returns.
Tourism is one of South Africa’s most important sectors. Last year the country received 10.4 million international tourism trips and it culminated into a total injection of R273.2 billion into the South African economy in 2018.
Tourism supports 740,000 direct jobs and over 1.5 million jobs across the economy.