Fears of jobs bloodbath in Cape tourism sector if flight ban not lifted
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Cape Town - Hoteliers say if the government’s ban on international flights into South Africa is not lifted soon, prospects for the Western Cape’s peak summer holiday season looks bleak with mass unemployment.
Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) Cape chairperson Jeff Rosenberg said: “The summer season is largely dependent on international travel.
“Cape Town historically enjoys support from international travellers and Fedhasa is working very closely with other industry organisations such as the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and all the other stakeholders in order to ensure that we open up as soon as possible.
“We have to get over all of these hurdles. If we don’t, the ramifications are wholesale unemployment. With the UIF Ters payments ending in June, most businesses will be under extreme pressure to ensure that their employees are remunerated in order to keep their businesses afloat.”
Clinton Thom, general manager of Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, said: “It’s predicted that tourism will really only get back to strong numbers in early 2022. We are pivoting our strategies to ensure that we appeal to the domestic market, which we hope will be the first to recover, and to ensure that we stay top of mind to an international audience.
“Even though the numbers are low now, we are optimistic that there will be a return to normal in the not-too-distant future.”
Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy added: “As our recent Covid-19 impact report mentioned, many tourism businesses have been forced to let some staff go or reduce the salaries of their employees.
“The survey noted that 56% of businesses do not have a recovery plan in place and many businesses feel that they will not be able to survive an extended period of lockdown.
“As a destination, we are ready to welcome visitors back to the city and we have been working very closely with our members and the City of Cape Town to ensure that everyone is ready to reopen with all the necessary safety protocols in place.”
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said: “Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane needs to urgently confirm that accommodation for leisure at licensed and accredited establishments is permitted under level 3.
“A careful reading of the amended level 3 regulations makes it clear that licensed and accredited accommodation establishments are allowed to operate for intra-provincial (within province) travel and are no longer restricted to only accept business travellers or persons requiring quarantine and isolation, and that travel for leisure purposes within one’s province is permitted. This view is also shared by industry bodies, TBCSA and the Southern African Tourism Services Associatio.”
However, Tourism Ministry spokesperson Hlengiwe Nhlabathi-Mokota said: “Any interpretation of the regulations to mean anything other than what was announced by the minister of tourism is misleading.
“You can’t book accommodation in a hotel for leisure purposes, only for business. Most experiences and attractions like going to the beach or group hiking, or other spectator events that constitute our leisure tourism and would therefore trigger provincial tourism travel and demand for overnight stays, remains prohibited under level 3. The minister is continuously engaging with all industry stakeholders as they bring various proposals on the table.
“We all want to see a thriving tourism sector but like the minister said, one step at a time. We are in the middle of a devastating pandemic and more and more people are losing their lives daily.”