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The Road to Tourism Recovery for South Africa

The travel and tourism industry has gone through an incredibly difficult time. South African Tourism has suffered devastating setbacks since the outbreak of COVID-19. The effects on the tourism sector is so great, that we do not yet understand its full impact. Recovery from lockdown will be a long and difficult process, to be certain.

In South Africa and worldwide, tourism recovery may be a long ways away. South African tourism will contribute far less to our GDP this year. Additionally, we must prepare for further job losses on top of what we have already seen. The lockdown occurred to contain the spread of the virus. In turn, though, it also curtailed the supply and demand of the tourism sector. Recovery from lockdown means stimulating this inactive sector.

Moving Forward with South African Tourism

Tourism Recovery. South African Tourism.

Since the lifting of certain travel restrictions, the tourism industry can begin to take recovery measures.

It is worth noting that fact that our efforts to contain COVID-19 have seen results. We have managed to slow the spread of the virus quite considerably. It’s also helpful that we are well away from the peak of daily cases seen in July. Now, tourism recovery is a potentially workable goal.

There is a need to maintain a delicate balance. We need to protect ourselves from another outbreak of COVID-19. This, while also avoiding further economic downfall. Restoring South African tourism from this point will be a slow and gradual process. Additionally, it will likely take at least a few years to achieve.

Risk Adjustment Approach to Recovery from Lockdown

The government has adopted a risk adjustment approach to rebuild the economy, as it were. Their plan for recovery from lockdown consists of a sequenced, phased-in opening of key sectors and priority areas. This, while intensifying efforts against COVID-19 and rebuilding the economy.

The tourism sector thrives on social interaction. As a result, it will take longer for it to return to full operation and activity. To assist this process, we need mechanisms to protect the most vulnerable segments of the sector. These include SMMEs, the self-employed, women, and the youth.

Assisting the Tourism Sector

JHB Bus Station

The Tourism Relief Fund aims to assist small businesses in the tourism sector, which will include travel services.

The Tourism Relief Fund aims to assist small businesses in the tourism sector. Thus far, the fund has received more than 10 000 applications. This R200-million fund is a once-off assistance package. It aims at helping entities cover fixed costs, operation costs, supplies, and other expenses.

There are several types of businesses that are eligible to apply for the fund:

  • Accommodation businesses. Hotels, lodges, B&Bs, guest houses, and backpackers.
  • Hospitality services. Restaurants and conference venues (not attached to hotels), professional catering, and attractions.
  • Travel services. Tour operators, travel agents, tourist guides, car rental companies, and bus operators.
  • For many businesses, the fund is simply not enough. But at the same time, it is not the only relief fund/scheme available to businesses. To see tourism recovery, businesses within the sector should take advantage of every advantage they can.

    The government introduced a R200-billion loan guarantee scheme earlier this year. This is in partnership with major banks, the national treasury, and the South African Reserve Bank. The initial phase of this scheme aims to assist companies with a turnover of less than R300-million a year. Most South African tourism businesses fall within this category. This will help to reduce the burden of operational costs like salaries, rent, and other payments.

    Final Thoughts

    The tourism sector has a long road to recovery from lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are resources available to help businesses on this journey.

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