In view of the major financial losses already incurred by the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors due current lockdown restrictions, Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) says it’s calling on government to lift the liquor ban and restrictions on Gauteng interprovincial travel to avoid exacerbating the unemployment rate.
“Major hotel groups have either closed all or some of their properties due to current restrictions,” the council said in its statement.
“Airlines have grounded their fleet, BnBs are closed, some branches of car rentals are closed, and entrepreneurs in township and rural tourism are on their knees.”
TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said: “With approximately 60% of domestic travellers being from Gauteng, and given that the province is the central connective point of the country, travellers and commuters transit through when exploring surrounding provinces, this means that the entire tourism economy in the country is negatively affected.
“In the aviation sub-sector, close to 40% of travel is impacted as the OR Tambo International Airport accounts for over a third of annual domestic travel.
“Domestic travel is a key pillar for the recovery of the tourism sector and consideration should be given to the lifting of the interprovincial travel and liquor bans, as tourism recovery is imperative for the revival of the economy of SA,” Tshivhengwa added.
TBCSA says the booze ban has restricted hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality businesses from serving alcohol which has led to many closing their doors due to their inability to break-even.
“This has put thousands of employees in this sector at risk of losing their jobs,” the statement said.
“We call on government to lift the alcohol ban and allow responsible trading by these entities to continue to sustain businesses and livelihoods,” said Tshivhengwa.
TBCSA says it is also urging the government to lift the restrictions on events, conferencing, and exhibition activities as “this has resulted in many jobs along the value chain being lost and many small businesses closing”.
“We call on government to lift the restrictions and allow a reasonable amount of people to attend events following protocols that are already established,” statement said.
The council says in addition to lockdown restrictions, the recent unrest and subsequent riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have caused damage to infrastructure and businesses, another factor hammering job losses.
“Reopening the hospitality and alcohol industries will have visible positive impact on the affected provinces.”
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern