How a third wave in SA could 'decimate tourism'
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The talk of a third wave in South Africa has caused concern in the tourism industry should the government enforce stricter restrictions.
The tourism industry came to a halt last year when the government implemented a number of restrictions and travel bans, which resulted in the loss of jobs and the closure of many once-thriving businesses.
The travel industry now waits with bated breath to hear whether there would be stricter regulations during the upcoming winter holiday.
Rosemary Anderson, Chairperson of FEDHASA, said the hospitality industry was "left broken by the first and second waves."
"Many businesses are now so financially compromised that they are unable to hang on any longer, especially in light of a predicted third wave and resultant lockdown measures. Some hotels, which are wholly reliant on business and international tourism, have been closed for over a year now.
“The total number of liquidations in the hospitality sector in April 2021 was 158. However, the figure of 158 companies going into liquidation does not reflect the many more hospitality businesses that have closed down, but which did not formally follow the liquidation process, so the picture is likely much worse than these numbers indicate,” she said.
Anderson said the solution to ensure Covid-19 compliance included adherence to health and safety measures, responsible trade and consumption of alcohol and a more swift vaccine rollout.
"FEDHASA understands the delicate balancing act that government is faced with, and understands how concerned government must be regarding the significant collateral damage that returning to stricter Covid–19 restrictions would cause, including the loss of jobs and livelihoods.
“We emphasised in March that trading under strict compliance together with mass vaccination of South African citizens is the only solution in the industry’s fight against Covid-19. We still believe it to be the way forward.
“FEDHASA has designed a robust set of health and safety protocols for Covid-19, and our members are acutely aware of the importance of adhering to these standards in order to safeguard the public and be able to continue trading, “she added.
Modipadi Phoku, a travel agent in Johannesburg, said a third wave would ideally discourage local travel.
She said there was fear and scepticism regarding travel at the moment, especially with the low demand for international travel.
"A third wave could result in further job losses, affect the already struggling economy, and impact the tourism industry dramatically.
"Although a third wave and tighter restrictions would be disappointing for the industry, we must remain hopeful that the vaccine drive will bring much-needed light to the situation. We have to keep an optimistic attitude, carefully observe precautions and continue being vigilant," she said.