Government blocking of charter boats will kill tourism businesses, says DA
Johannesburg - The government's continued blocking of charter boats from operating under a lockdown aimed at clamping the spread of Covid-19 will kill tourism businesses, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.
In a statement, DA member of parliament and deputy head of tourism Hlanganani Gumbi said the party had on two separate occasions written to tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, urging her to address the lockdown which has affected fishermen and jobs particularly in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
"Since the lockdown was announced charter boats have not been permitted to operate, impacting over 50 different charter boats," he said.
Gumbi said the Charter Boat Association had already committed to seven key steps to avoid the spread of the coronavirus in members' operations, including the sanitising of boats before and after every trip, taking the temperatures of staff and customers before boarding, providing hand sanitisers during trips and reducing boat passenger capacity.
Boat operators also pledged to ensure the wearing of marks and maintenance of physical distancing at all times.
"The minister’s office has acknowledged requests from the association as well as the DA’s correspondence," Gumbi said.
"However, she is yet to make any meaningful efforts to ensure that they are able to operate again, save jobs and importantly allow the many people who survive off this sector, some relief."
"People's livelihoods are at stake and they are unable to look after themselves and their families due to the collapse of this sector," he added.
South Africa has had a Covid-19 lockdown in place since March 27 which initially grounded all social and economic activity except for essential services, but has since been gradually relaxed to allow some businesses to resume limited operations.
The country is currentlly sitting on 118 375 confirmed casts of the disease, by far the highest national tally on the continent, out of which 2 292 people have died while 59 974 have recovered.
African News Agency/ANA