JUST when the South African tourism industry found its rhythm following months of uncertainty due to the pandemic, overnight travel bans have led them to lose R1 billion in travel bookings.
The R1bn figure relates to bookings for travel between December and March, which were lost within 48 hours due to travel bans imposed by some of the country’s key markets.
In a snap survey conducted among over 600 members of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) and the SA Tourism Services Association (Satsa), it was determined that if the travel bans remained in place, respondents would lose 78% of their previously expected business levels from December through March.
The CEO of Satsa, David Frost, said the bans were “catastrophic” for the SA travel sector.
“The impact of these ill-advised travel bans is catastrophic for an industry that has already been battling to survive for the past 20 months. South Africa and its tourism sector is being punished for its advanced genomic sequencing and its transparency,” he said.
“We can only hope that science will prevail and that countries will reverse the travel bans shortly. The World Health Organization and scientists continue to highlight that travel bans are not an effective measure to deal with the spread of Covid. What has happened in effect is that the world has shot the messenger for doing its job well.”
Fedhasa national chairperson Rosemary Anderson said the industry should now protect the domestic travel market.
“It is critical now more than ever that we retain our domestic tourism business by being able to offer our full smorgasbord of attractions to our local market. These include our beautiful beaches, inter-provincial travel and freedom to travel domestically, as well as being able to enjoy one’s favourite glass of wine or beer while tucking into a juicy South African steak at our restaurants,” says Anderson.
“To this end, we have been working closely with Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and have submitted alternatives to the restrictions over December 2020,” she said.
According to Anderson, banning interprovincial travel would be ineffective in preventing the spread of the virus.
“Leisure domestic tourism is low risk as it consists mainly of family/group travel in private vehicles to establishments and engaging in summer outdoor activities. There have been no major spreader events or incidents caused by domestic leisure tourism,” she added.