Pretoria - The tourism Industry has welcomed with both hands the government decision to lift the National State of Disaster after enduring two years of economic hardships.
The tourism industry at national and local level spent a long time trying to prevent job cuts and pushing back against excessive government-imposed regulations that threatened the survival of the industry that was arguably the hardest hit by the Covid-19 lockdown.
The industry advocated against an array of regulations like the ban on the sale of alcohol in restaurants, which generated about 60% of their revenue.
They also challenged the government for failing to consult their industry before imposing changes, as well as the United Kingdom's decision to move South Africa back to its red list prematurely in November following the outbreak of another Covid-19 variant.
Chief Executive of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said the phasing out of lockdown was a positive change for tourism because it would reopen doors and opportunities that could not be adequately exploited.
However, he said as an African country, South Africa would need to keep some of the lockdown measures in place to convince the international traveller that it was safe to come to the country as they may not trust that it was safe to come to travel to Africa.
"In other parts of the world there are still stricter measures so we must keep our eyes on the ball and keep some of the things that we were doing to make sure that there is trust in the tourism value chain and international travellers can be able to appreciate what we have to offer,"
He said insofar as gaining entry into the country, the reality was that South Africa is in Africa and people are actually sceptical about Africa.
"So for us to be able to install trust in the system for international travellers we need to keep some of these measures and we need to revive them as we go as the new science comes in."
Tshivhengwa said foregoing all safety protocols would be a mistake right now because some countries would be looking at us. He said South Africa does indeed need to keep wearing masks indoors and sanitising to ensure that it was clear that the country has not abandoned efforts to curb the coronavirus.
This meant it was obviously still important that everybody who enters the country does so with a vaccination certificate or they produce a polymerase chain reaction test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. This would boost international confidence in South Africa.