Members of the Tourism Business Council in South Africa (TBCSA) want the government to open the tourism border. Through a written proposal, the board members have requested the South African government to allow international trips again.
The South African government spokesperson had recently reported that the country might open in February 2021. However, the tourism board members believe that the earlier proposed reopening date, February 2021, is quite too far and would only deteriorate the countries’ economy further. The council also believes that a further delay in the countries reopening would make South Africa lose its tourism market share to the other leading African safari countries such as Kenya and Tanzania.
In line with the statement, the TBCSA members are confident that they can safely carry out their normal tourism activities in the countries and observe the precautionary measures. Speaking after sending the proposal, Mr. Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, the TBCSA chairman, said, “We hope that South Africa will open its tourism borders by September 2020. By then, we believe that the country will be safe to carry out regular tourism activities. Kenya has already opened its economy for domestic wildlife safaris, and we should too or risk being left behind.”
Besides retaining the country’s tourism market share, the TBCSA body argues that the state reopening would create more demand. According to them, the tourism sector would not make profits immediately after reopening, but rather, the reopening would only create room for bookings. Most safari bookings take up to four months, and so, an early reopening would secure the most visitors by next year.
“We do not expect to make profits when we open. We, however, want our visitors to start the booking arrangements. Most of the bookings take between two to four months. Hopefully, we will attain a break-even if the proposed September opening goes well”, added the TBCSA CEO.
In response to the proposal, the government committee believes that September would be too early for the nation to reopen its tourism sector.
“The country has not yet healed, and reopening the international borders would only risk the lives of the South Africans. Besides, South Africa has not yet reached its COVID 19 peak, meaning that the infections could be very in high in September,” responded Supra Mahumapelo.
According to the government committee, the country would be better off when it opens its boundaries, but the approach “needs proper calculations, not an abrupt reopening.”
Effects of COVID 19 in South Africa
South Africa was among the earliest countries to close their borders. The countries’ ministry of health confirmed the first coronavirus case ion 5th march and announced travel restriction on 23rd, the same month. On May 1st, the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown to contain the virus, and prevent further spread.
Like other nations, the South African tourism sector has had its fair share of challenges in the past few months. The leading hospitality firms have lain off their workers, and leading travel agencies such as Masaimarasafari.in and AjKenyasafaris.com have postponed multiple bookings. However, the government is still hesitant about opening the nation, with the fear of creating more mess.
If the reopening proposal fails to go through, the tourism industry will most likely experience more losses, considering that the South Africa high season for tourism runs from September to March.