Fast-track vaccine programme, says concerned SA tourism industry
Cape Town - The battered tourism sector is bracing itself for a bloodbath.
This after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would move to level 3 until mid-January to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19.
Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa chairperson Rosemary Anderson said: “We are of the view that travel will only return to some level of normality, and by implication our tourism and hospitality sector can only begin its recovery, when we start rolling out the vaccine programme in South Africa in earnest. There simply is no other option but to fast-track the vaccine programme.”
The tourism industry has been the hardest hit by the lockdown. The industry in South Africa supports 1.5 million jobs and contributes 8.6% to GDP. It has suffered significant losses during the lockdown that began in March. After Christmas Ramaphosa announced stricter lockdown restrictions that included a ban on alcohol, the closure of beaches, a curfew from 9pm to 4am, and a ban on social gatherings.
Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said: “These new regulations include a complete closure of all beaches, lakes, rivers and public parks, as well as a ban on alcohol sales at retail outlets and for on-site consumption, a curfew from 9pm to 6am, and restaurant and bar operational times that end at 8pm.
“While these new restrictions are disappointing, they are understandable as these temporary interventions will allow us to slow down the spread of the virus.
“We are aware of how this will negatively affect many businesses that operate within the tourism, hospitality and events industries. We are waiting to see the official gazetted regulations to ascertain what other implications this may have on us as an industry.”
Alcohol bodies have raised concerns about the ban on alcohol sales, saying it could put small businesses, livelihoods and the value supply chain at risk. They have also said the prohibition of distribution and transportation, in place during level 5, caused severe operational and logistical difficulties for the industry because products could not be moved from production site for safe keeping in warehouses.
A joint statement by National Liquor Traders Council, South African Liquor Brand owners Association, the Beer Association of South Africa, Vinpro, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, retailers and manufacturers, said: “We therefore strongly urge the government to review the ban on distribution and transportation to allow each company to manage safekeeping of stock. South Africa’s alcohol industry is one of our country’s most significant exports and therefore should be allowed to continue its production and distribution uninhibited.
“We also urge the government to be transparent about the state of the health system over the next 14 days to enable an earliest possible review of the ban on retail and on consumption sales.”