The draft document tabled in last month’s joint webinar between South African Tourism (SAT) and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) on government’s COVID-19 risk adjusted strategy presenting a possible reopening of international travel in February 2021 has spread panic in the industry and amongst travellers.
However, since then, SAT has been clear to explain that the time the timeline in the presentation was speculative and not a fait accompli. Despite this, a number of publications, including The Telegraph, have run articles stating that South Africa will remain closed to tourists until 2021.
Fortunately, a positive spin-off of the circulation of the draft document appears to be the galvanization of the South African tourism industry to gather essential information to lobby government more effectively – relying on hard data on employment and GDP contribution to explain the potential economic fall-out of delaying the reopening of inbound tourism.
Discussing the positive steps taken by the TBCSA Inbound Working Group, in a special edition webinar hosted by The Other Side; panellist, Margie Whitehouse, Chief Tourism Officer at WESGRO, explained that the task team, through the TBCSA, has been lobbying government to consider reopening international travel sooner.
And although reluctant to provide a suggested timeline, it was pointed out the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, had stated in a media briefing that opening the skies on the 1stof September 2020 “would be very beneficial to the tourism industry.”