To leisure travel or not? Department of Tourism reveals its stance
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday night, stating that the country will remain at alert level 3.
But what does this announcement mean for travel in South Africa? Ramaphosa said that the country will strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations and make certain additional measures.
It looks like most of the regulations remain, including business travel. The Department of Tourism has maintained that leisure travel is not allowed.
Over the weekend, a tweet by the @PresidencyZA, the official account for the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa posted an infographic on Twitter suggesting that leisure travel is allowed under level 3 regulations.
This was considered a "big win" for the tourism industry who were closed for four months. A few hours later, The Presidency deleted the tweet, claiming it was an editorial error. The news did not sit well with many South Africans.
Twitter users showcased their anger on the app. User @tulipandphoenix retweeted The Presidency's amended infographic, stating that they need to "Make up your damn minds
Former Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom also retweeted. He posted: "Please, Presidency, what in the world are you doing? This is embarrassing." (sic).
Please, Presidency, what in the world are you doing? This is embarrassing. https://t.co/PQ1sHua4yu— Derek Hanekom (@Derek_Hanekom) July 11, 2020
User @StephanieMarthi wondered why cinemas and casinos were opened and not leisure travel.
"The @PresidencyZA has become an absolute joke! How can cinemas and casinos trade with that cluster of people but booking a secluded getaway with your spouse or kids is not permitted?! At this stage, I'm just booking a weekend away without anyone knowing. KLA! I'm over this." (sic).
The @PresidencyZA has become an absolute joke! How can cinemas and casinos trade with that cluster of people but booking a secluded getaway with your spouse or kids is not permitted?!— Stephanie Marthinus-Hans🇿🇦 (@StephanieMarthi) July 11, 2020
At this stage, I'm just booking a weekend away without anyone knowing. KLA! I'm over this. https://t.co/hnHy2cu8WF
Western Cape finance and economic opportunities MEC David Maynier said on Saturday that The Presidency's "flip-flop" on the issue of intra-provincial accommodation for leisure purposes under the Covid-19 amended level 3 regulations is unacceptable.
"Such flip-flopping by the presidency is completely unacceptable. At a time when many South African’s livelihoods are on the line such indecision and confusion is devastating for businesses who have done everything necessary to put in place health and safety measures and have already begun to open," he said.
Speaking to IOL Travel, Chief Director: Communications for the Department of Tourism Blessing Manale said The Presidency corrected an error made in a tweet. He said: "It should be taken for what it is, an editorial error." Manale said there have not been any new announcements on leisure accommodation.
"We can confirm that accommodation for leisure purposes is not permitted under level 3. The only accommodation remains permissible under level 3 for among others essential, self-isolation, business travel, personal circumstances ( funeral attendance), conferences and business meeting, which will operate under strict measures.
"The opening of leisure travel within a province has not automatically opened up all accommodation facilities for all purposes. Such an announcement would have been explicitly made in the level 3 regulations which currently refers to general " leisure travel" within the province.
"The persistent selective interpretation of the implications of permissible leisure travel on accommodation facilities is a function of advocacy and lobbying by different stakeholders, within their rights and the interests of their constituencies. However, such advocacy should not be conducted in an irresponsible manner that intentionally creates misunderstanding, and perpetuates a message of inconsistency in government's response measures to the pandemic," he said.