ICYMI: 5 things you need to know about travel during level 3
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has announced that under level 3 lockdown some parts of the tourism sector will open up, providing a much-needed boost for the economy and for tour operators who have been without income since the end of March.
Here are five points that she made during her speech:
R30-million scheme to protect independent tour guides
Kubayi-Ngubane said that she met with tour guides who expressed that governmental relief initiatives have not considered them when measures were put to assist the travel industry.
"I went back to the Department and discussed what can be done to assist this subsector. As you are aware, the tour guiding subsector is dominated by freelancers and independent contractors with no job security and for this reason, the government relief schemes, including the tourism relief fund, did not cover them.
"The Department has come up with an additional financial relief mechanism for tourist guides. We have set aside a total of R30-million which will provide financial relief over two to three months. The beneficiaries of this scheme will include tour guides who are registered with the registrar in terms of the Tourism Act, and those who are not employed by any company, and those that have not formed their own companies, which means that they are freelancers or independent contractors without job security.
"We shall also be making further provisions to ensure that they also receive personal protective equipment (PPE). We trust that this support, will go some way in providing relief to the tourist guides," she said.
The tourism services allowed to operate under level 3
Kubayi-Ngubane revealed which tourism services will operate under level 3.
She said restaurants for delivery or collection of food and restaurants with liquor licences are allowed to sell alcohol only for takeout and delivery. Tourist guides, tour operators, travel agents, tourism information officers are allowed to come back to operations, as well as training of nature guides and other related services that can ensure safe distance. Public and private game farms have been opened for self-drive excursions and hiking to be done in compliance with existing guidelines and not in groups.
Accommodation activities are allowed, except for leisure. Establishments will no longer require a letter from Minister of Tourism to operate, and they are required to ensure that they accommodate those in the permitted services and keep records for inspections by the department.
Hunting and Gaming activities are also allowed.
What's not allowed
Conferences, events, entertainment activities such as festivals, casinos and leisure travel are prohibited under level 3 lockdown.
Domestic flights for business travel are permitted, so will the use of car rentals, which Kubayi-Ngubane believes is a "critical enabler of tourism and movement of people." Long-distance public transport, including inter-provincial travel, will be allowed.
She said the opening of hunting will also be a big boost to the tourism sector. The hunting industry contributes an estimated R2-billion (direct spending) annually to the tourism sector, and it also contributes to employment in rural areas.
Kubayi-Ngubane said her department has already engaged on the adjusted levels for the proposed inclusion of certain tourism operations and services.
She said the sector has an opportunity to open up more subsectors at level 3.
"We strongly believe that tourism will recover and grow beyond the levels it achieved before the crisis. I have tasked the South African Tourism(SAT) CEO with driving the process of developing a draft tourism recovery plan for South Africa. As part of the process, SAT has been convening weekly webinars with various tourism stakeholders to get their inputs on the post-Covid-19 tourism sector.
"SAT and the department have also been receiving written submissions from South Africa across the country who want to see our sector getting back to a growth trajectory," she added.
She also convened meetings and held multiple conversations with the private sector, from large businesses to small business, youth-run and women-run businesses, including those in rural areas and townships, to get their input for the recovery plan.
"We want our plan to be reflective of the views of industry players at all levels, but more importantly, we want to ensure that the tourism sector recovery is inclusive.
"Based on the Covid-19 epidemic expected trajectory, the first phase of the recovery for the sector will be driven by domestic tourism, followed by regional tourism and international tourism next year. Although we will be gradually opening up the sector in the coming months, depending on how the virus is spreading, we expect that the sector will only fully recover towards the end of this year," said Kubayi-Ngubane.