Monday marks World Tourism Day – SABC News
The South African tourism sector has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the scale of job losses still being recorded.
Now, as the economy begins to reopen, tourism stakeholders are urged to think, reinvent and relaunch tourism on the African continent. The industry, which has seen many companies shut down for good, is beginning to adjust to a new business environment.
Monday marks World Tourism Day, and celebrations in South Africa will take place in the town of Clarens in the Free State under the theme: Tourism for Inclusive Growth.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shaken the tourism industry, not only in South Africa, but countries around the world. The World Travel and Tourism Council reported that in 2020, after the COVID-19 outbreak, there was a marked decrease of US $ 83 billion and a loss of 7.2 million jobs, in the tourism sector around the world. Blessing Manale, chief communications director at the tourism ministry, explains the extent of the losses for the sector.
âWe lost jobs, people couldn’t trade, the infrastructure fell into disrepair. All of these things that we need for tourism have been diminished and seriously eroded by the coronavirus pandemic. There have been significant losses in restaurants, small businesses because they do not have other measures to protect them such as business interruption insurance. The temporary employment assistance scheme for the workforce has helped. We are talking about access to approximately 20,000 jobs. Whether it is a waiter or a driver. We have to get these jobs back, it’s been so bad. “
Last week, the Department hosted the African Travel and Tourism Summit, aimed at rejuvenating tourism on the continent. The Ministry of Tourism has drawn up the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, which aims to preserve the industry’s R189 billion and save up to 125,000 jobs. Manale says the summit addressed perceptions that traveling and doing business in Africa is unsafe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
âWe have interventions aimed at the domestic market and we are looking at systems like the economy motel system, the travel week where South Africans are offered up to 50% off bookings. We are looking to relaunch events with local artists that are affordable. We have hosted the African Travel and Tourism Summit. The key question was to relaunch the Africa brand, to sell our locations as film locations. Harness youth innovation, empower our women and use digital tools so people can trust our businesses.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu raised the issue of the Red List with the British Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa. The red list contains the names of the countries most at risk for the spread of the coronavirus.
The UK government has instituted additional measures for travelers entering Britain from South Africa which tourism officials say hamper tourism from the UK. The Managing Director of Corporate Traveler, a travel management agency, Oz Desai, claims that South Africa is on the red list is mainly due to the Beta variant, which has created the perception that South Africa is a COVID-19 hotspot.
âChina and the UK are still close to South Africa and have tough quarantine measures for South Africans, which is very painful for us. A British citizen can enter South Africa with just a PCR test, but upon returning home he will have to self-quarantine for up to 2 weeks. From a cost point of view which is R40,000, the same for a South African wanting to go to UK. The biggest bug out there are the vaccines which pretty much the vaccines that the whole world has recognized, J&J, Pfizer and AstraZeneca and SA as we know have used Pfizer and J&J, these vaccines are not recognized by the UK Uni, which is ridiculous considering they were part of COVAX. Certainly, for the tourism industry in South Africa, the key element is vaccination. “
Meanwhile, the recent move to Alert Level 2 means more aspects of the country’s economy are now allowed to function – a move requested by the tourism industry. However, despite these relaxed restrictions, it seems that a romantic safari getaway is not as appealing to all South Africans at this time. These regular vacationers share mixed reactions.
“Yes I will as long as they take the necessary precautions, things have to speed up, we still have to live,” says one traveler.
“Not so soon, the numbers have to drop and look safer before you start traveling,” said another.
âI would be willing to travel, being confined at home for so long I feel like a prisoner so going out for a little vacation will do good. I have to take precautions, âadds a frustrated traveler.
âPersonally, I would prefer to wait a bit. This does not mean that because the national state of disaster is going to expire, the coronavirus is going to end. As much as I love to travel, I’m not ready to travel anytime soon, âsays one cautious traveler.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is expected to announce new measures for the Tourism Transformation Fund this week. Sisulu will also release new and improved measures so that the industry can operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.