Travelers through SA ports of entry decline by a marked 32.9 percent year on year
JOHANNESBURG – Global tourism markets went into freefall when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of all borders and left the sector in an equal state of disaster, making it the worst affected sector and possibly the last to recover from the pandemic.
More so, the industry has had to process the implications of travel restrictions, borders closed, and events being cancelled.
Investec economist Lara Hodes said on Mondy that he tourism sector and its allied industries remained one of the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Indeed, the “outbreak of Coronavirus Covid-19 presents the tourism sector with a major and evolving challenge,” according to the World Tourism Organisation.
Consistent with routine data gathered by immigration officers from the Department of Home Affairs, the number of travellers – both South African residents and foreign travellers – passing through South Africa’s ports of entry/exit fell by a marked 32.9 percent year on year in March to 2 397 151 individuals.
Hodes said the number of tourists entering the country, which constituted around 66 percent of foreign arrivals in March, plunged by 36.2 percent year on year, as the dire effects of the stringent global travel bans began to be felt.
“Estimates by the International Air and Transport Association (IATA), in an April press release highlight the likely devastating effects of the pandemic on this critical industry. They estimate a potential 14.5 million decline in passenger numbers resulting in a $3.02 billion revenue loss, risking 252 100 jobs and $5.1 billion in contribution to South Africa’s economy’.
“Furthermore, behavioural shifts due to fear of contagion, as well as massive hits to household income and business finances are expected to reduce demand for travel in the foreseeable future, said Hodes.
Chief executive of the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) Yoland Kona said the country’s visitor economy was made up of various sectors, which include travel and hospitality, business events, creative sector, sports, lifestyle, transportation and aviation, services and eCommerce.
“Everywhere in the world people are starving for travel, and we can and must make their stay and travel as safe as possible … continue our efforts at securing our visitor sites, showcase the indomitable spirit of our sector,” said Kona.
Already key source markets internationally are easing regulations and allowing for more local travel, an aspect that the province is also taking into consideration by prioritising the subsectors that are likely to be the first to restart the reopening.