Lifting the beach ban came too late, says Knysna tourism group
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Cape Town - With the beach ban lifted, many in the tourism industry breathed a sigh of relief. But some complained almost irreparable damage was done to the sector because of the ban and other lockdown restrictions.
The beach ban was implemented in December and continued throughout January during the prime holiday season. Not only beaches, but rivers, lakes and dams were prohibited for public use.
The beach ban and the ban on alcohol sales were lifted by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday.
Knysna Accommodation Association marketing coordinator Colleen Harding said lifting the beach ban would not have a major effect on tourism at this late stage, but allowing alcohol again was a big step forward.
“With some private schools having already started and public schools to start on February 15, it does not allow much time for families to travel to see Knysna and enjoy our lovely beaches. Having said that, I believe there will be some travellers who are not affected by school-going children and who may well take the opportunity to travel and enjoy a quieter time than during the festive season peak.”
“The lifting of the alcohol ban is going to have a much more positive effect as our many great restaurants now have the possibility of trading for longer hours with the later curfew of 11pm and being able to offer wine and spirits with patrons’ meals.”
Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy welcomed the easing of restrictions.
“As a coastal city with some of the best beaches in the world, we are extremely delighted that locals and visitors can once again enjoy the waters of Cape Town. We are also relieved that the curfew times will once again be adjusted to allow for dinner trading within the restaurant space and that alcohol can once again be served and sold responsibly.”
Duminy said although the industry was thankful for the respite, much damage has already been done.
“The latest round of regulations, implemented on December 28, looked set to be the final nail in the coffin for many tourism businesses. Cancellations have caused a massive loss of revenue across the industry.”
RoomRacoon South Africa Country Manager Niels Verspui said with lockdown restrictions in place, many establishments received cancellations. He said the lack of international travel and the advent of the second Covid-19 variant had a worse effect on tourism than the beach closures.