FEDHASA: ’International travel a lifeline but not enough to save hospitality sector’
While FEDHASA CEO Lee Zamekile Zama has welcomed the reopening of international travel from October 1, she believes it is certainly not enough to save the hospitality sector.
"The phased reopening of international travel is a lifeline, but certainly not enough to save the hospitality sector."
She revealed that 2020 occupancy levels were below break-even for normal hotel trading.
"Hotels are high fixed-cost businesses and trading below break-even results in severely negative cash flows, which has a significant impact on the livelihoods of staff employed in this sector. Many hotels are still closed because of low demand.
“This announcement could not have come a minute sooner. We are delighted to be able to show just how travel-ready. The next, imminent step must be the full reopening of our borders,” says Zama.
The tourism industry share their views on the announcement
Graham Wood: Group COO Hospitality of Sun International dubbed the move to level 1 "a relief."
"The move to level 1 lockdown restrictions is a relief, especially relaxing the curfew, permitting leisure facilities to allow 50 percent of capacity, and allowing larger gatherings. This means our entertainment and conferencing facilities can begin to operate again.
"Our casinos have been trading since July, but the news that international borders will be gradually opened from October 1 is encouraging. The road ahead will not be easy, but we can now plan for the recovery of the hospitality and conferencing segments of our business," he said.
Wahida Parker, Managing Director of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, welcomed the news.
“South Africa’s tourism operators are looking forward to welcoming visitors from abroad but we must make sure that we maintain proper health and safety measures in whatever we do as an industry,” she said.
Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group Managing Director Middle East and Africa also welcomed the news.
“We welcome the announcement that a date has been set for the reopening of South Africa’s borders with open arms.
“The decision by our government is vital in helping not only the travel and tourism industry, decimated by months of being on hold, start to recover but the economy as a whole. Many jobs will now be able to resume, providing much-needed income for hundreds of thousands of South Africans,” he said.
Mark Havercroft, Minor Hotels’ Regional Director for Africa, said statistics indicate that 63 percent of tourist arrivals to South Africa are from within the region.
"It’s clear how beneficial this development will be for the hospitality, travel and tourism sectors, but also the retail sector as South Africa. This move holds massive potential to reignite sectors that are critical contributors to South Africa’s economy as a whole," he said.