South Africa

Tourism calls for clarity on easing of lockdown regulations, some say it's not enough

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Rhamaphosa’s further easing of lockdown regulations has been welcomed by the tourism industry albeit with requests for more clarification around a number of issues.

Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said the industry sought further clarification of issues such as inter-provincial travel, and when attractions are able to open. “We are delighted that there will be a return to operation sooner than anticipated.” 

The easing of the regulations made way for the opening of restaurants for sit-down meals, the return of personal care services such as hairdressers, the opening up of conference facilities for work purposes, and making commercially licenced accommodations, as well as the opening of cinemas, theatres and casinos.

“While we are still seeking further clarity around a number of issues, such as inter-provincial travel, and when attractions are able to open, we are delighted that there will be a return to operation sooner than anticipated. For Cape Town Tourism specifically, we are thrilled,” said Duminy.

Cape Town executive mayor Alderman Dan Plato shared similar sentiments saying what was needed now was urgent clarity from the national government on when these industries will be allowed to trade so that they would start the necessary preparation to safely open their businesses.

“The hospitability industry is a key contributor to the Cape Town economy, employing thousands of locals. The City has put a number of measures in place to support local businesses during these tough times, and national government needs to give urgent clarity so that they can once again safely open their doors and begin to trade in line with the required regulations,” said Plato.

Deidré Baartman, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Finance, Economic Opportunities, and Tourism, however, said this was nowhere near enough and provided very little meaningful relief to the tourism sector.

Baartman said in the Western Cape, almost half of all tourism businesses were closing and more than 240 000 people stood to lose their livelihoods in the coming months.

“The Western Cape is the country’s tourism breadbasket, but the tourism supply chain is still stifled during this stage of lockdown. While we anticipate regulations will allow for accommodation services to open, travel across provinces for leisure remains closed. This means that hotels, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering establishments might get to open some doors, but their market is severely limited,” she said.

Ramaphosa said home-sharing services would not be allowed to operate under revised level 3 lockdown. Baartman said: “Home sharing should be allowed to take place with similar strict protocols in place that will allow hairdressers to open for business. Home shares could in many instances be used as self-isolation sites for those exposed to Covid-19 or awaiting results.”

The latest Cape Town Tourism Covid-19 Impact Report highlighted the devastating effects an extended lockdown could have on tourism-based businesses. It showed that 83 percent of businesses indicated that they would not survive longer than six months under the current lockdown conditions with 56 percent of businesses not having a recovery plan in place.

Duminy said: “What we also found was that more than 90 000 jobs in the tourism sector in Cape Town could be lost over the next few months. According to the latest available statistics by Statistics South Africa, tourism value added to our local economy in 2018 was roughly R18.1 billion. In the same year according to the same source, the tourism sector directly supported just over 113 000 jobs.”

He said the partial opening of the industry, albeit at limited capacity, came as a relief as many people’s jobs and livelihoods were on the line. 

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