Department of tourism braces for a new reality

Kubayi-Ngubane says the department will work with other departments in the economic cluster to save jobs.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has vowed to commit to a recovery plan for the sector post-Covid-19.

With countries across the globe grounding its planes and enforcing travel bans for almost three months, the tourism sector is suffering.

This is according to Kubayi-Ngubane as she gave an update to members of the executive council responsible for tourism across all provinces on Friday.

A tourism recovery strategy, including a risk-adjusted approach for the sector during the lockdown period, and an update on the Covid-19 tourism relief fund rollout, were discussed at the meeting.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the Covid-19 pandemic continued to negatively impact the sector far more than any other sector in the economy.

This as almost all the sub-sectors of tourism remain closed during alert Level 4 of the risk-adjusted approach to the re-opening of economic activities.

She said the sector was faced with socio-economic impacts such as potential job losses and dire livelihoods of tourism workers and entrepreneurs, including freelancers such as tourist guides.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the department would work with other departments in the economic cluster to save jobs and devise measures to support the phased opening of the tourism sub-sectors.

She also called upon the industry to demonstrate leadership in safety, early detection and prevention measures for the mutual usage by tourism operations.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the safety measures were important in safe-guarding the industry to not be contributors to the Covid-19 transmissions.

“To this end, we need to stand ready to provide guidance and support for recovery measures in the private and public tourism sector. As the sector starts to go back to work, It must institute health and behavioural protocols to lower the potential for further transmission,” she said.

She said the department also needed to find new measures to ensure continuous support to tourism businesses to adapt and thrive in a new post-crisis era.

These should explore innovative capacity building programmes to enable the travel and tourism sector to be more inclusive, robust and resilient.

On the tourism relief fund, Kubayi-Ngubane said the department needed to improve coordination and the pace of implementation of the intervention measures necessary for the recovery of the sector, such that the sector contributed positively to economic transformation.

Tourism department spokesperson Hlengiwe Nhlabathi-Mokota said at its conclusion, the meeting reiterated the commitment of government to work tirelessly to safeguard the tourism industry.

She said the department called for cooperation and partnerships with academic institutions, regional organisations, communities and international factors to mitigate against the pandemic, develop response plans and solidify the foundation for a healthier, more resilient future.

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