If South Africa is placed under a harsher lockdown, the tourism industry will be decimated, warns Tourism Business Council of South Africa CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.
This follows the government moving to lockdown level three due to soaring Covid-19 infections, which included banning alcohol again.
He told Vutivi News that because alcohol and the freedom to travel were a large part of the sector, livelihoods would be severely affected by a stricter lockdown.
Tshivhengwa said that alcohol sales were a significant boost for profit margins for hotels and restaurants, and other tourism sector-related businesses.
“When you have a ban on alcohol, you’re going to have a negative impact on a lot of industries,” he said.
“Sales will be down, and as a result many restaurants will close, even more than those that have already closed their doors for now until such a time when the ban
is lifted. There are also employees that are dependent on tips who are without jobs…”
On some countries placing a travel ban on South Africa, Tshivhengwa said the decision was hasty.
“The important thing is that it is premature for these countries to ban us because of the (new) Covid-19 variation in South Africa,” he said.
“We haven’t even received a report from the scientists that informs us that this variation is deadlier or what if it deals more damage than what the first one did. This is not in the spirit of countries working together.”
Tshivhengwa said that the country’s tourism sector depended on some of the countries that had banned travel, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.
He said it was crucial that infections did not skyrocket.
“What’s important is that we control the rising number of infections. This is on the backdrop that people from international countries don’t want to travel when there is a high number of infections.”
Tshivhengwa warned that if the infection rate continued to rise, it would sound the death knell for the sector.
“Any stricter regulations will just finish off what’s left of tourism. We have been closed for a while and only opened for a little bit, which is not good for businesses,” he said.
Tourism was one of the last sectors to open after the government started easing lockdown restrictions.
He also appealed to banks to offer some relief via extended payment periods, and said these deals needed to happen quickly because companies were shutting doors, while others were falling deeper and deeper into debt.
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