City of Cape Town calls on minister to speed up resumption of tourism
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The City of Cape Town's mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, James Vos, has written to Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane to obtain clarity on when tourism at the domestic, regional and international levels will be allowed to continue.
Vos is concerned over information that he had received indicating the sector would have to wait a further five months before recommencing business. It was also reported to him that the country's borders will only be reopened next January or February.
"I have recently been made aware that dates have been assigned to the different levels of the risk-adjusted approach to the current lockdown," Vos said in a statement on Wednesday.
"According to the information I have received, domestic travel will only be allowed to commence at Level 2, which, apparently, will be in November 2020. This is a full five months away.
"It was also reported to me that our borders will only be reopened in January or February of 2021, meaning no regional and international travel until then.
"I have therefore written to the Minister of Tourism to request confirmation, according to the department’s estimates, of when travel will be allowed a) domestically, b) regionally and c) internationally?
"I further requested that Minister Kubayi-Ngubane earnestly consider allowing the tourism sector to reopen under Level 3 of the risk-adjusted strategy, under the condition that strict health and safety measures are observed by businesses in the tourism sector.
"The tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit by the regulations implemented to contain the spread of the virus and will result in major job losses.
"According to the latest available statistics by Statistics SA, the tourism sector adds value to our local economy in 2018 was roughly R18.1 billion.
"In the same year, according to StatsSA, the tourism sector directly supported just over 113 000 jobs. These statistics illustrate how vital this sector is to our local economy."
Vos said Cape Town Tourism, the City’s official destination marketing organisation, conducted a survey of businesses linked to the industry, including accommodation providers, tour operators, attractions and restaurants.
"Only 4% of the businesses surveyed have the resources to survive for more than a year, 36% of respondents say they were only able to provide partial pay to staff, 31% have staff on unpaid leave and a further 18% have had to retrench employees.
"This is why it is vital that domestic tourism is moved to at least Level 3 while adhering to strict health protocols to keep employees and customers safe.
"Our proposal is to make tourism a catalytic sector for economic recovery and to bring it back to life by moving it up in the lockdown sequence while making sure that health requirements are not compromised.
"If this sector is denied the opportunity to reopen, billions will be lost and thousands of people will lose their jobs, not only in tourism but also in the sectors that support it such as food and beverage, accommodation and transportation.
"I have spoken with many businesses in this sector who are desperate and cannot afford to wait five minutes let alone five months to reopen.
"South African Tourism and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa are putting together a proposal to convince government why tourism sub-sectors or specific companies should be allowed to operate sooner than Level 1."
He encouraged businesses in this sector to submit their own motivations at http://pages.services/tourismrecovery.co.za/recovery-survey
Submissions close tomorrow, Thursday, May 14.