Embattled tourism industry wants to start ‘opening up’ in Level 3

Declares it will have stringent protocols in place to deal with Covid-19.
Closed … a poignant picture of Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani on the Durban beachfront during the ‘hard’ lockdown in April. Image: Supplied

South Africa and the world’s tourism industry is facing its biggest crisis in history as local and international travel bans as well as trade restrictions have forced hotels, airlines, tour operators, tourist attractions, restaurants and numerous other hospitality businesses to close in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As lockdown measures are slowly being eased – the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is lobbying government for more tourism-related businesses to be allowed to operate in lockdown Level 3 in June, but under strict health and social distancing protocols.

Read: Lockdown causes ‘total devastation’ to tourism & hospitality

Under the government’s current lockdown rules most tourism businesses will only be allowed to recommence operations in lockdown Level 2 and Level 1, most likely towards the end of the year. However, much depends on the spread of the pandemic and the expected peak of infections in South Africa, with consensus being that it will most likely be around August.

High-level talks

The TBCSA, an umbrella body for the industry, held talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa and other government leaders last Friday, highlighting the detrimental impact the lockdown is having on the sector.

While Ramaphosa mentioned in his last Covid-19 address to the nation on Sunday night that business travel will be phased in during Level 3, details of the eased restrictions for business travel are yet to be revealed.

Speaking during a Covid-19 briefing on Level 3 regulations on Thursday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that inter-provincial travel is still prohibited, except for people “travelling for purposes of starting work, moving to a new residence, or caring for an immediate family member”.

Read:

Business in Level 3 – what you need to know

SA lockdown: tourist attractions, casinos, more hotels close

She said travel will also be opened for pupils, students and teaching staff travelling between provinces and districts, given that the phased opening of schools will begin in June.

Hospitality on hold

Establishments offering entertainment, recreation and the on-site consumption of food will remain closed. “These include places such as restaurants, shebeens, taverns, night clubs, bars, cinemas, theatres, fêtes, bazaars, casinos, and similar places,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

“As will hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, timeshare facilities and resorts and guest houses remain closed, except those that are accommodating remaining and confined tourists, persons lodging as a result of work purposes, and persons in quarantine or isolation.”

She noted that the minister of tourism as well as other relevant ministers will give further details on the regulations.

Dlamini-Zuma’s pronouncement that inter-provincial travel will still largely not be allowed under Level 3 dashes the tourism industry’s hopes of opening up sooner.

Just last week, JSE-listed hospitality giant Tsogo Sun Hotel effectively called for the relaxation of inter-provincial travel in a Sens trading update. The group is set to release its year-end results to March 31 on Friday (May 29).

Most of the group’s more than 110 hotels countrywide are currently closed. With its own hotels and hotel management contracts, it operates more than 18 000 hotel rooms in SA.

“Inter-provincial travel is vital for the hotel industry and the group has been actively lobbying through industry bodies for the earliest relaxation of travel restrictions, so that we can begin to open our hotels,” it said.

Devastating impact

The group added that it supports the government’s efforts around Covid-19, however the “prolonged lockdown” is having a devastating impact on the economy, and particularly the travel and tourism industry.

“No industry can survive extended periods without revenue, and we implore the government to open the economy as quickly as possible, with due regard for safety,” it said.

Speaking to Moneyweb, TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement that limited business travel will be allowed in Level 3. However, he reiterated calls for more tourism and hospitality related business to be allowed to operate.

“We urged the president to allow more businesses in tourism and its value-chain to be allowed to operate as soon as lockdown Level 3 in June. Totally restricting the tourism industry from operating, as was the case under the hard lockdown and now in Level 4, has already had a devastating impact on the sector,” he said.

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. Image: Supplied

“Through an internal TBCSA survey, we are aware of over 80 000 people in the sector who have applied for the Covid-19 UIF Ters benefit, but the figure is likely much higher than that as the industry directly employs more than 600 000 people,” he pointed out.

Industry being pulled apart

“We stressed to the president that if the tourism industry is only allowed to start recommencing business in levels 2 and 1 of the lockdown, we may not have much of a tourism industry left. We went to him with plans around how the industry can operate, but under strict health and safety protocols,” Tshivhengwa said.

Some of the proposals include hotels and other accommodation establishments no longer providing a buffet breakfast or food services and alternatively providing in-room dining or staggering breakfasts on an à la carte basis for guests.

These are in addition to the government’s Covid-19 screening, sanitisation, protective equipment and social distancing rules, which already apply to other industries such as the retail sector.

Tshivhengwa believes thousands of jobs in the sector are likely to have already been shed.

“The ripple effect of the tourism value chain means that the industry supports more than 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs in SA. Thousands of further jobs are on the line if most tourism businesses are not allowed to trade.

Read: Comair to file for voluntary business rescue

“We have seen the impact on major tourism players, such as airlines and hotel groups, but many more SMEs are facing even [more] dire financial fallouts. Things are very uncertain currently and we simply don’t know how many tourism companies will go out of business.”

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Stop the lockdown. It’s a massive mistake

Pandata.org has done some really interesting work on the health impacts of this virus.

I think at this point opening the tourism sector fully may not result in a major new wave of infections as many people are terrified of leaving home. As such whether they fully open or not the attendance will be gradual.

Also whatever happened to boarding houses. Isn’t that a way to cater for our housing shortage and all our tourism trained employees- boarding house where there is a communal kitchen/ meals are catered and served.

In the old days they had communal bathroom at the end of each corridor too?

D-Zuma you’re a disgrace!

I don’t think any thought was given to this sector.

You would have thought they could have opened Game reserves for at least day visitors.

I guess its just much easier to find reasons why something cant be done.

Beaches and perks remain closed for exercise? Maybe they think its better to be run over by the increased traffic as that wont be a reportable covid death.

Like the 16 people that have died from drinking illicit alcohol in the Eastern Cape.

I have made numerous comments as a 68 year smoker. My wife and I excercise a couple of times a week walking in our neighbourhood. Perhaps law enforcement should step up patrols to see the amount of people of all races not wearing masks. Some with serious attitudes when you say something or point out to our masks. Leave the roadblocks trying to catch smokers and see what the threat is.
Minister of Police time to retire with your Attitude and take Dlamini Zumu with you.

WJS

Can I give you some good advice…..DON’T provoke people that doesn’t abide by the rules,don’t even look at them,don’t speak to them, leave that to the police and mind your own business during this time when everyone is on edge!

Chev it becomes my business if I am protecting the people who pass us while we are out trying to exercise by wearing a mask and they don’t. However I take your point about some of the risk. Hope you do not get contaminated.

WJS

The virus is only just starting to take hold in SA. Now is not the time. It would undo the hard work already done.

There is only one way out – herd immunity. You can either get to herd immunity with an economy or without an economy. Lockdown doesn’t stop the virus. With 200 000 jobs at risk in the tourism industry of course they should start to open up – they should never have been shut down.

We should remind ourselves that lockdown was not intended to prevent the virus from spreading. I don’t even believe that lockdown could flatten the curve actually, seeing that the amount of covid deaths per capita in Sweden is not higher than those countries that implemented lockdown measures. If lockdown had any positive effect on the spread of the virus, then prisons should be the safest places on earth. The same goes for Nursing Homes. Inmates in the USA were tested, and most are positive but less than 10% show symptoms.

In South Africa, they want to let prisoners go free because they believe that these lockdown measures pose a threat to their lives! People in Nursing Homes test positive already. The virus has infected people in almost every town in the country, even under lockdown. People need to eat, and the supply chain that provides the food is the carrier for the virus. Everybody who eats will be infected, whether that person is in lockdown or not.

That brings us to the next point. What happens when lockdown measures destroy economic activity? We should keep in mind that the population size is always a function of economic activity. A growing economy can provide food for a growing population. Before property rights and the rule of law helped Europeans to escape from the Malthusian Trap during the Industrial Revolution, population growth was kept in check by famine. Economic activity saves lives.

The lasting effect of lockdown will be that it once again set the Malthusian Trap. Lockdown measures, enforced by Central Planning authorities, are the most serious infringement of property rights in history. It takes humanity back to a time before property rights developed. The size of the population will have to reflect the lack of property rights once again. Emerging Markets will bear the brunt of the effects. To make a living. people will have to go back to subsistence farming. Those who do not have enough productive land to fend for themselves will be taken out by the Malthusian Trap. This process will go on until the system reaches equilibrium between the size of the population and the availability of scarce resources. No amount of populist money printing can save society from this basic law of nature, because money printing is another serious infringement of property rights. Any attempt to use socialist solutions will only accelerate the process.

Political systems, and not the weather, is responsible for famine in the modern age. When they implemented lockdown, they could just as well have declared the culling of humans. This is the implication of lockdown.

Lockdown measures, and the effect that it has on the economy, is the largest orchestrated and coordinated culling process of humans in history. This culling process is implemented and driven by the WHO and enforced by the local Central Command Council. NDZ and her henchmen are the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Valid points Sensei, especially regarding the issue of Govt releasing a number of prisoners out of fear of C19 brought into confined spaces like prisons.

Conflicting message this. A prison must be THE SAFEST place to be during a L-O-C-K-D-O-W-N…..because this is exactly what Govt demanded from all of us since Level-5 lockdown.

We as the public were LOCKED DOWN in our homes especially during level-5….where we SHARED enclosed spaces with family…just like a prison. (…and those huddled together in a shack or downtown CBD flat or hostel, even worse)….but we must remain INSIDE.

So while ‘free’ citizens were literally under house-arrest….yet the same cleva leada’ship let people OUT of prison! (…i.e. OUT of confined space environment)

Govt must NOW decide, do they want people to be INSIDE a confined-space environment, or OUT/AWAY from confined spaces!!

“What is good for the goose…..”

I stand to be corrected but apart from the Mining Industry, this sector is the biggest job creator in SA and has not been sufficiently paid any attention.
This sector has been decimated by the virus protocols – the only silver lining is that it is winter – not the most productive time for this industry, however there are no adequate fallback plans for those employed on a contractual basis are now unemployed and will be for at least the next 6 months. Desperate times.

Strange that the mining industry is the first to open up… and yet its most likely the most difficult to practice social distancing in.. I would guess the rest of the business world would have more ability to practice social distancing in offices etc….. wasn’t that the point of the whole lockdown and reasoning behind the phasing approach to open up…. Yet the embeciles unlock the one sector ( mining) that is most likely impossible to practice social distancing.. Its not about whats essential its what can be practiced safely with a bit of logic… I have less chance of catching the virus shopping for baby clothes than if I worked in a mine… the logic is mind boggling.

Agree, time to open the Hotel/B&B & general leisure industry (if Govt is serious in collection of some tax revenue this year)

But….caveat…..it will be a confusing affair:

Imagine you arrive at your booked room, and the DOUBLE BED is found taped off / demarcated with a sign “please use the single beds only, to comply with Social Distancing guidelines”

How many double-beds are going to be sawed in half to make 2 single beds?

Sign outside bathroom/shower: “please queue outside bathroom when one partner occupies bathroom”

Bizarrely, knowing govt, it would not surprize me if only ONLY ONE slice of bread is to be allowed inserted into a multi-slice toaster!

“Your luggage will be brought up to your room, after 14 days of quarantine”

When using the breakfast facility downstairs, only ONE partner allowed at the breakfast table….the other partner must wait in the room.
….and don’t LICK the dishing spoons, please!

…how can I forget: “….WEARING OF MASKS during breakfast, must be adhered to at all times”

“You can settle your bill downstairs. Bitcoin also accepted. Guests to please refrain from touching any crypto-money” 😉

They did not think this through. A system that enables, and motivates, individuals who are unaware of the importance of the system, and who are oblivious to the fact that they are themselves dependent on the system, to destroy that system as part of their job description, is a destructive negative feedback loop, and a certain recipe for disaster.

When nations enabled ignorant individuals, who have good intentions, at the WHO to suggest lockdown measures to prevent a virus from spreading, without the simultaneous implementation of a trip-switch or safety mechanism to prevent damage to the underlying support network that provides food to everyone, they started a disaster of epic proportions.

A specialist, per definition, fails to see the bigger picture. A health professional and a virologist does not understand economics and does not think that economics is important, or that it plays any substantial role in his life at all. A system that allows this specialist to decide on matters that fall outside of his field of expertise, that will impact on the economy, is a broken, fragile, unstable, dangerous and destructive system.

Lockdown is the result of a combination of the myopic actions of two groups of specialists. The combination of virologist and health professionals on the one hand and politicians, on the other hand, creates a highly dangerous imbalance of specialist opinion on the side of destruction. Any system that allows these kinds of errors is bound to fail. A highly fragile and unbalanced system like this will self-implode, it will self-destruct. The cost will be counted in lives lost.

Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, says that locally, 30 million people will be going hungry as a result of lockdown.

Time to open up… our economy has suffered enough.. Why is it that all the decision makers are employed, earn a salary etc make decisions on when our economy can start up…. Surely all businesses are well aware of Covid and thus can take their own steps to try and ensure safety of workers. If not, then deal with those who are not looking at safety of workers.

The idea that everything is micro managed, you cannot buy hot food, or a kettle is just non sensical. This is just a deflection so that it looks like they are doing something when infact nothing positive is being done to assist the masses. I would really like to know how many people have received any form of relief from government , certainly not the same percentage of people as those who get their salaries working in goverment.

Open up all sectors with guidelines that make sense, not petty restrictions.

The law of unintended consequences is alive and well.

The phased approach is close to clinical insanity. Either open completely or not at all. The 5 phases are just another socialist chimera, the only purpose of which, is to convince the non independent thinkers, the gullible and in general the lowest common denominators that make up unfortunately the largest portion of our populace. That our government and those around the world actually can control the spread of an airborne corona virus, similar to what causes the common cold and is no more deadly than the last 60 annual flu seasons.

They cannot, period.

Look at how this phased approach is working – ok you can open say a mine. But critical feed stocks needed for processing your end product are only available from companies that can open in phases 2 or 3 levels below – result the mine cannot open. Even companies that can now open in ‘Level 3’ and 2 and 1, will be subjected to maximum numbers of employees ie. an arbitrary thumb sucked number not based on any science such as 50% – i am aware of dozens of companies that cannot just operate at 50%, they were never designed for this – we work on economies of scale, take that away and costs sky rocket or running the business becomes impossible.

So while the number crunchers in government keep on producing these models that say we might have a contraction of 7%, the input numbers are off the charts over optimistic and do not take in to account any of the ludicrous laws being imposed daily by the NCC and the actual real world impact they will have on the entire supply chain. Guys everything is inextricably connected, the economy is a living and breathing entity, just like a human body. Try living for a week without a liver or your kidneys. When just as optimistic 1st world foreign governments are expecting a reduction of 14% plus in GDP this year, i am astounded they even trot out these low ball numbers, they are laughable.

Now the real kicker, believe it or not – not everyone has bought into the corona scam, ignore predictive modelling and surveys, for anyone who understands how they work, will know you can get any result your client wants, by just targeting the ‘right’ demographic and preparing the questions accordingly, but guess what this type of propaganda comes back and bites hard. Brexit and Hillary come to mind.

So we have had government enforcing lock downs globally – which as each day passes and more and more real data comes out – prove were a total waste of time for the public. Not for power hungry civil servants of course. But guess what a lot of those public will now turn on you, even the obedient ones. ‘Anecdotal’ evidence is already showing that if governments can state that ‘this is for covid’, we did this for your protection etc etc ad infinitum. Good luck on your tax collections, provisional and otherwise. The new force majeur term du jour – COVID 19. Will be used by any profit making company person worth his salt, even if he/ she made a thumping profit in lock down – they will declare a thumping loss due to covid 19. I have already seen some highly creative legal above radar schemes put in place – clever tax avoidance is already in full swing, in SA and globally. A lot more are of course totally illegal but what did you expect!? A lot of the economy has been driven under ground and much more will be. An unintended consequence, a financial rebellion, the bird being given to socialist governments globally on a biblical scale.

The real data is doing the WHO/ CDC/ John Hopkins and socialist governments no favours. Africa supposedly would be devastated by now – ALAS only 3500 deaths out of a population of 1.3 billion. But they cannot leave that alone we are constantly reminded that the epidemic in Africa is now allegedly a silent one ripping through the continent ready to pounce soon – really? Sweden was going to be wiped out – really? Japan and Taiwan, explain away?

To put this in to context if the death toll in Africa was just equivalent to that in the UK – AFRICA would be on 780,000 deaths, remember we were told that AFRICA would fare far worst than any European country like Italy, Spain etc. Well to get from 3,500 to 780,000 is quite something and no the death toll is just not accelerating like it did in these countries. Maybe Africa is behind the curve – ok, but 776,500 deaths behind the curve – i think not.

Super comments from both you and Sensei.

You touched on a couple of nerve points, and here’s what I think will be a huge one.

All businesses (still standing) not subject to rigorous audit will now be able to hide cash receipts and sales and declare losses to SARS for the current, and who knows how many more years to come.

The excuse for the losses? We were flattening the curve. Nobody will have any basis for contesting these numbers because, well, nobody has ever been here before.

Practically if course, it means SARS tax receipts are decimated as provisional and year end payments reset to zero.

And so there are better, more accurate terms we could use. Flattening the economy, flattening SARS tax takings – and hopefully, flattening the ANC.

It’s definitely flattened the people of this country, and somebody should be made to answer for this catastrophe.

Sadly, none of the main stream media (Sunday Times, 702, eTV, etc) have cottoned on to the devastation of the economy, and maybe they never will. Seems they are too dazzled by the cigarette and exercise bans.

The other thing that I think will play out is the return of government employees to work. They have had a wonderful time during the lockdown, with an extended holiday on full pay. Thanks to the excessive fear mongering, they can now refuse to return to work because their lives are stake. After all, why on earth did we all do the lockdown unless we were all at risk of dying?

Nothing I can see here has a good ending.

End of comments.

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