Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) hopes that the South African government can "Break down the industry into smaller sections to increase the possibility of small wins".
This follows pleas from the organisation for leisure travel to be allowed in level 3 lockdown.
The organisation hosted a webinar with over 1600 key stakeholders within the tourism and hospitality sector on Monday afternoon to discuss the future of tourism in the country. The webinar was hosted by TBCSA Chair Blacky Komani, TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, and moderated by David Frost SATSA CEO.
The meeting aimed to provide feedback on efforts by the council to lobby government for a phased reopening of the industry and discuss the current state of the tourism industry.
Tshivhengwa revealed that the tourism sector needed to be sensitive to the fact that as coronavirus infection numbers grow, it becomes difficult for government to give concessions to the industry.
"One of the lessons learned is to break down the industry into smaller sections to increase the possibility of small wins contributing to bigger industry success," he said.
With that said, Tshivhengwa revealed that the webinar highlighted the frustration felt by the industry, especially with UIF-TERS not being paid this month, which leaves many tourism businesses fearing what's next.
IOL Travel reported this week that tourism organisations from across South Africa are trying to get their voice heard in hopes that President Cyril Ramaphosa revises the policies around leisure travel.
They are trying to fight for the reopening of the sector in a bid to keep their doors open and save jobs.
"One thing that is clear is the industry needs to stick together. We all have the same goal, which is to see our businesses going back to work and to put food on the tables of our communities.
"Our role is to influence policy, and we will continue to do this until we come out of this together," he said.
Tshivhengwa said since the declaration of a National State of Disaster in South Africa, the TBCSA met with a number of government officials, including Ramaphosa, to present the tourism recovery plan. The organisation also presented the industry’s health protocols, industry job losses, business closures, and financial relief.
Komani remains optimistic that the South African travel and tourism industry can survive this crisis.
“The tourism industry has been affected by various international crises in the past and we have survived them, so we will survive this one. Covid-19 is a moving target. We must approach it with facts and data-driven strategy, open communication with government, and we must continue to prove that our health protocols will help flatten the curve going into the future as we continue to be responsible and be compliant," he said.
TBCSA revealed that there is an estimated R748m loss of tourism expenditure daily.
The organisation said around 600 000 direct jobs were affected.
“We have made some strides in terms of ensuring that some parts of the sector become operational during the lockdown. While we are frustrated with the current pace of the government’s response to our proposals, we must acknowledge some of our small wins such as the restaurant sector coming back online and continue to push for various areas in our sector to reopen by providing evidence to substantiate each case, and we are doing that daily,” added Tshivhengwa.