So far, South Africans can look forward to what promises to be a festive season as the daily Covid infections and death rate remain low.
The health department’s acting director-general Nicholas Crisp said various departments, the private sector and business entities were working together to get the economy going again and to avoid further lockdown restrictions.
“We are not in a hurry to introduce any further restrictions. There are no indications at the moment that this will be necessary or even valuable to implement,” said Crisp.
Corporate Traveller’s general manager Oz Desai said the pandemic had caused everyone to lose out on the opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest for well over a year.
“Whether that meant having to put much-anticipated adventures on hold or not being able to spend time with loved ones living far away,” Desai said.
Rebound travel was primarily leisure-oriented, but also extended to business travel.
“As traveller confidence continues to rise, we are seeing a huge increase in demand for corporate travel,” he added.
Low-cost airline kulula.com’s chief commercial officer Desmond O’Connor announced the Cape Town and Durban service capacity had increased to pre-Covid figures.
Kulula.com had relaunched its double-daily service between Cape Town and Durban after lockdown restrictions had left the airline with only one flight per day on the route.
“This is a highly popular route, particularly over weekends and school holidays,” O’Connor said.
Currently, kulula.com had more than 10 000 passengers booked in November and more than 3 000 for December.
South African Liquor Brand owners Association chief executive Kurt Moore welcomed the department of health’s announcement that the current levels of infections dud not warrant further restrictions.
“The alcohol industry and tourism are inextricably linked in terms of hospitality and the holiday experience,” Moore said.
Any further alcohol bans over the crucial festive season would only deter tourists from booking trips to South Africa, undermining the government’s attempts to support the industry.
He said with vaccines freely available in the country, the government should no longer need to use such heavy-handed measures, like curfews, lockdowns, and alcohol bans.
Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa chair Rosemary Anderson said no-one knew if government would impose harsher restrictions in light of the upcoming festive season.
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“We just know that continued lockdowns are not sustainable and government needs to control the Covid pandemic through mass vaccination,” she said.
“As other countries have already proved, mass vaccination is the only sustainable way of managing the pandemic.”
It was not sustainable or financially viable in an already crippled economy to continue the practice of lockdowns and alcohol restrictions when they were now causing more harm than the pandemic.
“There is no sector as aware of the direct relationship between adherence to protocols and the recovery of the sector than the hospitality and tourism industry,” Anderson said.