Tourism industry is resilient but we need answers, says Cape Town Tourism CEO
An eerie calm has descended over the streets of the Mother City. While locals go about their daily lives, there's one thing missing - tourists.
Yes, there are pockets here and there who appear oblivious of South Africa's international travel ban. But it's clear that the dwindling number of foreigners in the city centre is a nail in the coffin for our local tourist economy.
It's not a situation that we're used to. But then again, nothing about the coronavirus outbreak is normal. Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, is hoping the hump will pass. When asked about current tourism stats, he answers cautiously.
"We have seen a slump, but current numbers show projected bookings until the end of May - there's a 10 percent drop coming in via Cape Town International Airport. But we're hoping to do another check by end of this week," says Duminy. "What we are anticipating is a bigger drop due to the travel ban," he adds further.
But Cape Town Tourism's biggest concern is the visa ban. He says that it's important to convince visitors and business people to postpone their plans till a later date. "I think the fact is that we are still trying to get as much info from different sources of government will make a huge difference. For example: What defines a gathering? What happens to tourists that are here? Can they go back to quarantine? We are trying to deal with this in a practical manner," he says.
"From what I understand, those that are here are here. If you have arrived, be careful, be safe, and follow good hygiene. That is standard across the world. But most importantly, how long will the travel ban last?"
Although the outlook looks bleak, Duminy stresses the fact that the industry does support the Presidency's call. "What we have done is sent a formal request to government informing them of the situation," he stresses.
The ones that are suffering are unfortunately small business. "The industry is trying its best to manage what Ramaphosa said. We need to know what is the stimulas package proposed, and when is it happening," ponders Duminy.
In the meantime, Cape Town Tourism is applying austerity measures, including implementing low season measures, meaning less staff and skeleton crew.
Duminy is still optimistic. "The sector is willing to help and play its part. I think the challenge is with any industry, we go through a cycle, so almost like the wind gets knocked out of the sales, but the industry is resilient."
"Government has given us a beginning and end date. There's the decisiveness of saying that we need to stop the spread. So we need to work collaboratively with government with as little pain as possible," he concludes.