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According to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), inbound tourism employs more than 375,000 people in SA and contributes to 8.7% of the country’s exports.
The council estimates that over 40,000 jobs have already been lost within the tourism sector since the borders were closed and says it is critical to preserve those left.
There are also significant knock-on effects on other parts of the economy and not having international tourism and travel open will affect SA’s status as a regional hub and leading African destination.
According to TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, car rentals have already reopened.
However other markets, such as communities and conservation, have been hard hit by the lockdown.
“The loss of jobs and income is already being felt significantly in those communities adjacent to parks and the direct impacts on conservation from reduced revenues and reduced corporate spending, as well as indirect impacts through increased environmental crime, are potentially devastating,” he said.
Tshivhengwa said the proposed phased recovery strategy provided for an initial six to eight-week preparation phase, followed by a phase one trial phase in which travellers from countries with low risk profiles would be allowed into SA.
These travellers would be vetted, all stringent safety protocols would be in place and the focus would be on low-contact products and low-risk areas, traditionally with low density.
“In phase two, South Africa will further open key markets, expand the experiences on offer until in phase three, air access is opened fully and the destination can restart its longer-term growth strategy.
“At the same time, South Africa will have to focus on continuing to create an enabling environment for tourism, which looks at more visa waivers, a robust e-visa system, the fixing of vehicle licensing and permits…” said Tshivhengwa.
Tourism SA spokesman Blessing Manale said they appreciated the body of research work contributed by research institutions, but said they would have to study the findings in detail before responding.
“We appreciate the body of knowledge from credible mechanisms [but] are in no position to comment.”
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