Open up tourism sector to prevent devastation, says DA

Open up tourism sector to prevent devastation, says DA

2020-06-03 05:58:00 PM

Open up tourism sector to prevent devastation, says DA

The official opposition has drawn up a recovery plan for the travel, tourism and hospitality sector to present to the government

Linda EnsorSA already has all the infrastructure it needs to ensure the tourism sector is at the forefront of job creation. Picture: SUNDAY TIMESThe DA has called for the immediate easing of lockdown restrictions on the tourism sector and for inter-provincial road travel to be allowed to prevent the decimation of an industry that contributes significantly to the country’s economic growth.

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In terms of the DA’s recovery plan for the travel, hospitality and tourism sector, inter-provincial road travel should be allowed under the existing level 3 Covid-19 lockdown regulations, domestic air travel in level 2,  and international air travel in level 1.

Hotels, self-catering accommodation, lodges and restaurants should be allowed to open immediately, subject to hygiene and social-distancing protocols. In some cases, such as with large hotels and restaurants, trade should be restricted to 50% of capacity.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), travel and tourism contributed 2.8% or R425.8bn to SA’s real GDP in 2018 and was responsible for 1.5-million jobs. According to the DA, estimates predict that the sector could lose between 550,000 and 600,000 direct jobs, and between 1.1-million and 1.2-million indirect jobs as a result of the lockdown.

Under level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown, no hotels, lodges, self-catering or other forms of accommodation, nor restaurants and coffee shops, are allowed to open. No international or domestic travel is allowed.To formulate its plan the DA conducted four surveys to determine the views of industry participants. These included a survey of 30 companies in the events and conferencing sector; more than 400 accommodation establishments in Franschhoek; over 27,000 accommodation establishments in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Knysna; and 25 lodges on Route 24, which stretches from Gauteng to the North West.

The results highlighted the plight of these businesses and the likelihood of their going under if they have to remain closed until November. Losses were mounting and some establishments had already begun retrenching workers, saying this would only worsen as the lockdown continued.

Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has indicated that the tourism sector will only begin to open up in December.DA spokesperson on tourism Manny de Freitas said at a media briefing on Wednesday that the party would submit its recovery plan for the immediate opening up of the sector to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Kubayi-Ngubane.

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According to De Freitas, “most of the sector will be decimated” if it is only allowed to open up in December as envisaged by the government. He was critical of the fact that the department does not seem to have a recovery plan for the sector.He said it would be a simple matter for people to respect social-distancing and hygiene protocols if the tourism sector were opened up and large accommodation establishments were allowed to accept 50% of their capacity. This is the trend internationally and SA should follow suit if it wants to save its tourism sector, he said.

If the tourism sector opened up it is logical, De Freitas said, that other businesses, such as hairdressers and beauty salons, be allowed to open up as well.Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has not reached its peak in SA yet and there are hot-spots, such as the Western Cape, which might make inter-provincial travel risky, De Freitas said the restrictions could be eased responsibly, and in a measured and phased way.

Keeping them locked down would cause economic devastation to the sector. There has been a relatively low number of deaths in SA compared to other countries that have already opened up their economies, he said.De Freitas stressed that a successful tourism recovery plan would require co-ordination and co-operation between several government departments.

Read more: Business Day »

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