Cape Town - Load shedding has been listed as one of the challenges facing the City in its efforts to recover Cape Town’s allure for foreign and domestic tourists after the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including lockdowns and flight bans.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis told legislature's finance, economic opportunities and tourism standing committee that the significant impact of load shedding was making the possibility of meaningful economic recovery tougher.
“The reputational harm it does to South Africa is quite great among tourists. It has safety impacts for tourists who are trying to walk around the city during times of load shedding and I really do think it had a deleterious effect on our tourism market.”
Hill-Lewis was responding to questions from committee members, who wanted to know about the challenges facing tourism in the Western Cape.
Committee member Nomi Nkondlo (ANC) asked how the negative impact of the pandemic on economies globally had affected the pricing and packaging of tourism products and packages offered by the City and Cape Town Tourism.
Mayoral committee member for economic growth James Vos told the briefing that the City was pinning its hopes on the implementation of innovations, such as the introduction of a remote work visa category to attract digital nomads.
Under the City’s proposal all the national government needs to do to make such a visa a reality is to amend section 11 of the Immigration Act, which relates to an extension of visas beyond 90 days, because remote workers tend to stay beyond three months in a location.
Committee member Matlhodi Maseko (DA) raised the issue of foreign media always focusing on Cape Town’s high crime rate and wondered how the tourism campaign tackled this problem when trying to attract tourists from abroad.
Committee chairperson Deidré Baartman (DA) said while she was proud of the hard work by the provincial government and the City to step in and support the tourism industry after it had been negatively impacted by the pandemic, it was not enough.
“We remain concerned about how budget cuts will affect tourism programmes such as the Tourism Product Development Fund.”