Reitumetse Makwea
Digital Intern
4 minute read
16 Nov 2021
6:50 am

Tourism takes the vaccine lead

Reitumetse Makwea

The tourism, arts and culture and hospitality industries have been the hardest hit by all the Covid lockdowns.

Picture: Gauteng government

Over the past 20 months the tourism, arts and culture and hospitality industries have been the hardest hit by all the Covid lockdowns – and saw more than 165 000 people in these industries lose their jobs, as well as more than 1 000 restaurants close down.

As a way to work towards helping revive the industry, the Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa), in partnership with the South African Breweries (SAB), and Gauteng Tourism launched a vaccination drive for the restaurant industry in Sandton from on Monday to Wednesday.

Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Parks Tau said the provincial government had been reaching out to these industries and mobilising people to get vaccinated so that they could be able to open up the economy – and hopefully keep restaurants open, should lockdown levels increase in the near future.

vooma vaccination drive weekend

“We want to be able to make sure that people can access different amenities and facilities and actively participate in the rebuilding of the Gauteng economy,” Tau said.

“So we’d really like to thank our partners, the Restaurants Association, SAB, and the restaurants themselves for actively participating in this process and for driving this activation over the next three days, where we can comfortably say we have mobilised the workers in the industry to vaccinate.”

Tau said he wanted to start a process in the restaurant industry where restaurant staff become proactive and vaccinate, despite periods where there might be greater distress.

vooma vaccination drive weekend

“We should be able to check if those staff of restaurants are vaccinated, so that even when lockdown levels increase, they should be able to continue with their activities, and serve those who are [also] vaccinated,” he said.

In this way, a message of both incentives and disincentives for those who are not vaccinated will be sent out, he added.

Tau stressed that the partnership will be actively pursued in a way that would “promote economic development and help everybody”.

Gauteng Tourism Authority’s acting CEO, Barba Gaoganediwe, said: “One may ask, what would summer be without a jab?”

vooma vaccination drive weekend
Thapelo Thibedi. Photo supplied.

For this will be the only way to take back the summer and do December like it always had been done “We are entering summer, a very festive season, but a summer which is different – characterised by hardship, job losses and general want – all this because of the Covid pandemic,” said Gaoganediwe.

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“This vaccination drive, #Jab4Tourism, aims to get us back to some sense of normality,” she said.

Gaoganediwe said the tourism industry accounted for a third of the jobs in Gauteng, while the restaurant sector especially played a crucial part in providing jobs.

With the frontline staff of tourism and hospitality being vaccinated, a message is given to patrons that they will be served by people who are vaccinated.

vooma vaccination drive weekend

“With the #Jab4Tourism drive, we are focusing specifically on the frontline staff: the waitrons, waiters, barristers, car guards. And these are the people who have been shunning away from getting vaccinated.

“We’re looking forward to be on track to get people in their numbers in Gauteng vaccinated.”

Restaurant owner Luca Borella said the restaurant industry had felt the brunt of the lockdowns and desperately needed the economic resurgence to get back on their feet.

“As an industry which was mostly on a halt, this is a great outpouring of caring and we need to promote it and keep it going so that we can get back to a semblence of normality,” Borella added.

“I hope for prosperity for all of us.

“So thanks a lot to all the parties who came together for this partnership and their excellent efforts and lifting us out of this terrible times,” Borella said.

Rasa CEO Wendy Alberts said they were grateful for the support received from the local government.

Covid-19 vaccine
Healthcare workers administer the first batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on 17 February 2021, as health workers receive the first jabs of the vaccine in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Michel Bega

“We want the government to collaborate with the industries and also listen to what we have to say going forward – but most importantly work hand in hand with the restaurant industry,” she said.

“This must be so that we can have a collaborative relationship that causes the least economical [upheaval] on our businesses.

“You’ve seen the hardship that we have faced over the last 18 months, we’ve seen restaurants close and people losing their jobs,” Alberts added, stressing the need for #Jab4Tourism.

reitumetse@citizen.co.za