TBCSA says mass retrenchment looms if domestic interprovincial leisure travel does not open
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The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) believes that the reopening of domestic interprovincial leisure travel could essentially save thousands of travel, tourism and hospitality jobs.
The Department of Tourism confirmed that leisure tourism remains closed under level 3 lockdown.As a result, TBCSA revealed that it will make an urgent call to government to hear the plea of the sector and reopen domestic interprovincial leisure travel immediately.The move is to reduce the number of retrenchments across the sector.
“If the government does not open interprovincial leisure travel this week, mass retrenchments will start within the sector. This will be further propelled by the UIF TERS benefit coming to an end and insurance companies refusing to pay legitimate claims.
Interprovincial travel will bring hope to the industry and mitigate mass retrenchments.” said CEO of TBCSA Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.He claimed the industry loses R748-million every single day during the lockdown. The TBCSA estimates a loss of 600 000 jobs if the sector remains closed with knock-on effects in other sectors. He said around 49 000 SMMEs have already been negatively affected, and many have already permanently closed shop.
“We developed protocols to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 across the entire tourism value chain and these have been accepted. The next steps that are taken by the tourism industry should reflect this and our readiness to reopen the industry. Interprovincial leisure travellers, similar to business travellers, have a significant contribution to make to the country’s tourism, and we should, therefore, be allowed to receive them”, added Tshivhengwa.
He further stated that tourism attractions protocols were comprehensive and sufficient to mitigate the spread of the virus. He said it should serve as a guide to ensure that safety and hygiene practices are put in place and practised in all tourism-related businesses and functions.
“Provincial boundaries are an artificial construct when it comes to restricting travel; some people can travel 10 kilometres and cross a provincial boundary, while others can travel 300 or more kilometres away from home in one direction and not cross a provincial boundary. Interprovincial travel is already allowed for work and business travel, study, funerals, and care for vulnerable people purposes. If such categories of people can travel safely by whatever mode across provincial boundaries, so too can leisure tourists”, said Tshivhengwa.
Chief Director: Communications for the Department of Tourism Blessing Manale told IOL Travel on Monday that sports, cultural, beach, group hiking, spectator events, religious gatherings or anything which constitutes leisure tourism, and which may trigger provincial travel and demand for overnight accommodation, remain prohibited under level 3 lockdown.
“This clearly demonstrates that indeed leisure tourism remains primarily restricted. Any interpretation of the regulations and directions as announced to mean a free fall opening of leisure tourism, particularly inter-provincial travel and a wholesale accommodation and hospitality services, is misleading to the sector.
"It remains a voice of those who want to ride and perpetuate the perceived misunderstand as a lobbying mechanism for opening up of the tourism sector beyond what the Minister of Tourism and government has been doing,” he said.