The board of umbrella body the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) recently held an urgent meeting to discuss ways forward for the sector.
This is after various attempts to convince government to allow a phased reopening of the tourism sector, especially the use of leisure accommodation under lockdown Level 3.
The industry is considering its options to stop the loss of R748-million a day in tourism expenditure and the further permanent loss of much-needed jobs, the TBCSA says.
“We have tried appealing to government since the Level 3 lockdown was announced; however, our appeals were not adequately considered. As a result, we have no choice but to weigh our options on the relief that will protect and save businesses within the sector, as well as the value-chain of tourism and hospitality, otherwise the industry is facing permanent closure,” says TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.
The TBCSA says it has presented a comprehensive tourism recovery plan to government, backed by health protocols developed by the industry to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
The plan is based on a phased approach, starting with domestic travel and then the opening of international inbound travel by at least September, to take advantage of the inbound summer high season which runs from September to April and represents 60% of South Africa’s international tourism revenue.
The council points out that tourism in South Africa supports 1.5-million jobs and contributes 8.6% to the county's gross domestic product.
It further notes that more than 600 000 employees within the tourism value chain applied for the Unemployment Insurance Fund Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme programme, which came to an end in June. This means employees will not receive any income from July.
The TBCSA says employees in the industry are left with no hope and no date for when the tourism industry will be reopened.
“We believe the protocols we have developed, which are already being used for business and essential travel and accommodation, are adequate for leisure travellers as well. Our protocols are as stringent as those in other sectors that are already operational," adds Tshivhengwa.