Marizka Coetzer
2 minute read
14 Dec 2021
6:15 am

Tourism on tenterhooks over stricter lockdown measures

Marizka Coetzer

The Fedhasa has pleaded for the government to use mechanisms other than lockdowns as the omicron variant dominates the country’s fourth wave.

. Image: iStock

Would-be holidaymakers and the tourism industry are waiting to hear if stricter lockdown measures will be announced this week.

On Monday, Statistics SA released key findings of the tourist accommodation report showing total income increased 95.5% in October this year compared to the same month last year.

The Federation Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) has pleaded for the government to use mechanisms other than lockdowns as the omicron variant dominates the country’s fourth wave.

The association’s national chairperson Rosemary Anderson said they had asked Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to intervene on their behalf.

“Our hospitality businesses simply cannot survive a repeat of last December where beach bans, alcohol restrictions and extended curfews effectively shut us down,” said Anderson.

She said with the recent international travel bans imposed on South Africa, hospitality businesses were reliant on domestic tourism over the festive season.

Manny de Freitas, the Democratic Alliance spokesperson on tourism, was optimistic that government wouldn’t clamp down on people’s movement.

“Wearing masks and social distancing has become a culture now,” De Freitas said.

Up until now, government had been doing the right thing.

“They haven’t closed down or created harder and stricter restrictions,” he said.

“I’m hoping that there won’t be stricter lockdown restrictions and measures because now more than ever, we need to help the tourism industry as much as possible.

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“There were massive cancellations internationally when the latest virus was announced and South Africa was placed on the red list.

“That has done a lot of harm to our tourism industry.”

De Freitas said the positive aspect was that there has been an upturn in local travel.

“I think there will be an increase in people travelling inter-provincially.

“Even those people who don’t travel out of their provinces or cities, I’m hoping will go out to restaurants and pubs,” he said.

Yvonne Smit, from a guesthouse in Clarens in the Free State, said they had not had many cancellations but bookings were slow this year.

“It’s much slower than usual, it’s as if they are waiting until the last minute to see if we are going to into another lockdown,” she said.

Smit said they were worried that guests would cancel should stricter lockdown regulations be implemented this week