The South Africa’s tourism private-sector on Thursday called for earlier phased risk-adjusted reopening of international market as early as September 2020.
“South Africa is following a Risk-Adjusted Strategy based on levels of lockdown, not dates. These levels are defined according to relevant epidemiologic facts-parts of the travel and tourism sector has been earmarked for return in levels two and one, depending on their risk profile and the spread of COVID-19,” said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).
“However, we have already seen the inclusion of business travel in level three as a result of successful lobbying for earlier reopening of this critical sector and we are confident that we are in a position to reopen inbound market in a safe and health-focused manner at least in September,” he said.
Tshivhengwa stated that they will be making their request to the parliamentary portfolio committee on June 9.
“The summer high season runs from September to March and represents 60 percent of the annual business for tourism. The nature of international inbound tourism is such that we have long lead times between booking and travel,” he said.
Tshivhenga pointed out that they have prepared safety and stringent health-focused protocols to guide and assist the travel and tourism value-chain including staff, travellers and guests. He said the lockdown is having a negative impact on the tourism sector.
The tourism sector closed when the government announced the national lockdown on March 26 to flatten the curve of the COVID-19.
“The loss of jobs and income is already being felt significantly in those communities adjacent to parks and the direct impacts on conservation from reduced revenues and reduced corporate spending, as well as indirect impacts through increased environmental crime, are potentially devastating,” he said.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced earlier that international tourists may only be welcomed back next year, as a phased reopening of the sector will first depend on domestic tourism, followed by regional tourism.
“Based on the COVID-19 epidemic expected trajectory, the first phase of the recovery for the sector will be driven by domestic tourism, followed by regional tourism and international tourism next year,” added Kubayi-Ngubane in a statement.
South Africa’s inbound tourism employs over 375,000 people and contributes 8.7 percent of the exports. TBCSA said they estimate that over 40,000 jobs have already been lost within the tourism sector and said they want to preserve those left. Enditem