The tourism industry waits with bated breath to see whether South Africa will implement harsher lockdown restrictions in the coming days. With the surge in Covid-19 cases, some are predicting the worst.
If President Cyril Ramaphosa does implement restrictions, questions like, what impact would it have on the SA travel industry? Would the country be placed back into level 5? Would inter-provincial travel be permitted? Would he permit intra-provincial travel? Or no travel at all?
Only time will tell, and the decision for stricter lockdown will depend on the infection rate.
Last year’s heavy lockdown saw many travel businesses close down or battle to stay afloat. The travel industry believes that harsher third wave restrictions could signal the death knell for recovery efforts.
And, with my countries restricting travel to South Africa, the industry may not survive if domestic travel is limited or restricted altogether.
Rosemary Anderson, FEDHASA National Chairperson, said responsible trade within the tourism and hospitality sectors and people abiding by health and safety protocols remain key to the sector’s survival.
“The statistics released this week by Statistics South Africa, with focus on the accommodation and the food & beverage for the month of April 2021, have shown income from accommodation decreased by 32,2% in the three months ended April 2021 compared with the three months ended April 2020. The negative contributors to this decrease were hotels (-40,4% and contributing -27,3 percentage points); and ‘other’ accommodation (-18,6% and contributing -5,2 percentage points).
“These statistics indicate how financially damaged the sector was, and it does not bode well for the survival of the hospitality and tourism industry if there are further and harsher restrictions imposed,” she said.
According to her, the industry’s survival depends on the swift vaccination rollout.
“The efforts taken to secure vaccines and speed-up the vaccination programme is a welcome development. However, mass vaccination of South African residents is the only solution in the industry’s fight against Covid-19. We still believe it to be the way forward,” she said.
“Although we are in the grip of the third wave, there is no sector as cognisant of the direct relationship between adherence to protocols and the recovery of the sector than the hospitality and tourism industry, “she added.
In the meantime, travel expert Jennifer Morris said that travellers should avoid hotspot areas entirely if they could.
“If you want to proceed with your holiday, book accommodation away from crowds, like self-catering, game lodges or boutique hotels. These kinds of establishments allow for ample social distancing and greater peace of mind.
“Also ensure that your establishment and activity operators are Covid-19 compliant. They need to share its Covid compliance on the website and throughout the property,” she told IOL Travel this week.