TBCSA says opening up of borders will ’reignite South Africa’s economy quickly’
Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) believes the tourism industry can reignite South Africa’s ailing economy, but it has to reopen borders.
This follows a 51 percent decline in South Africa’s GDP during Q2. According to PWC’s Public and Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) Report (2019).
TBCSA revealed that tourism generated R120-billion in foreign exchange from visitor receipts in 2018, adding up to about 8.7 percent of South Africa’s exports, second only to mining.
“Tourism can be South Africa’s economic lifeline, but only if international borders are opened up soon,” said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, the CEO of TBCSA.
“We are appealing to the government to safely open our borders. Our industry is ready, our source markets are waiting to travel, so let's save jobs and the economy.”
He said TBCSA’s Travel Safe-Eat Safe protocols and programme, endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), has been rolled out widely across the tourism sector to ensure the safe reopening of the industry.
"While tourism stakeholders agree that the reprieve granted by domestic travel will provide a lifeline, it cannot be the industry’s lifeblood sustainably. An opening date is critical if tourism is to reignite South Africa’s economy, not only to ensure that international trade can plan ahead but also so that airlines can retain South Africa on their schedules. If airlines decide to redeploy their aircrafts or reduce their schedules, this will have a direct impact not only on tourism but also trade, " he said.
Tshivhengwa said the safe reopening of South Africa’s borders is an essential step for tourism to contribute meaningfully to government’s tax revenues.
"Every day we remain closed to international travel, we lose R336-million of spend and the Government loses vital tax revenue. Opening up our tourism sector will have a direct and immediate positive impact on government’s coffers at a time when it most needs it,” added Tshivhengwa.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane detailed why South Africa is yet to open international borders at a panel discussion last week
She said: “Our next step is to work towards the reopening of international travel. We have started to analyse our key global markets and understand more about international travellers who visit the country.
“If we do open our borders, we are unsure whether international travellers will visit."
Kubayi-Ngubane emphasised that some destinations may implement a mandatory quarantine period, which could make travellers to South Africa cut their trip short if the borders reopened.