Once a leading destination, Franschhoek is now 'fighting desperately to survive' Covid-19
The lockdown has taken a toll on many popular South African destinations. With people unable to travel for leisure and land and air borders closed, tourist enclaves like Franschhoek are struggling to survive.
Over the past 15 years, Franschhoek has positioned itself as a leading destination for domestic and international travellers. It boasts 66 world-class restaurants, 80 wine estates, 120 luxurious accommodation establishments and 250-holiday rentals, but with the reduced demand for travel, these numbers could decrease significantly.
In March, the accommodation and restaurant sector had to cease operations due to Covid-19 and a national lockdown.
In an effort for their “voices to be heard”, many tourism and hospitality-related businesses, with their employees, are calling for the immediate reopening of tourism.
One Franschhoek guest house owner launched a petition, “Open Tourism in South Africa NOW” (https://www.change.org/Open_Tourism_in_SA_NOW) in hopes to attract the attention of government.
The petition started by Tim Roggenbach has since reached almost 20 000 signatures.
The chief executive of Franschhoek Wine Valley and Tourism, Reinher Behrens, told IOL Travel the "uncertainty of not knowing what happens next is worrying".
He said that, due to lockdown, many small businesses had shut down, which left many unemployed.
"Franschhoek is 90% dependent on tourism. Not being able to trade as normal is not a great feeling. Some have closed down their businesses as they were dependent on daily visitors to sustain them.
“If tourism businesses remain closed for longer, it could have devasting consequences on the destination," he said.
Behrens wants to work with government to find a resolution.
"Leisure travel needs to be permitted. We will do our best to government and adhere to Covid-19 regulations. We are currently focusing on daily experiences and enticing locals to spend time outdoors. However, if we get accommodation opened, it could help boost our economy," he added.