The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) on Monday said it was confident the industry would survive the Covid-19 pandemic, despite recording a daily loss in tourism expenditure of R748m.
This comes after as many as 1,600 industry bodies and business owners attended a webinar which aimed to provide feedback on efforts by the council to lobby the government for a phased reopening of the industry. The webinar also discussed the current state of the tourism industry.
“Today’s session has further highlighted the frustration felt by various sectors of our industry, especially now with UIF-Ters [temporary employer/employee relief scheme] not kicking in this month,” said CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.
“One thing that is clear is the industry needs to stick together – especially because we all have the same goal, which is to see our businesses going back to work and to put food on the tables of our communities.
“Our role is to influence policy and we will continue to do this until we come out of this together.”
Tshivhengwa said the council had on various occasion met with the government and banks to present the tourism recovery plan, health protocols, job losses, business closures and financial relief.
“Every day that the industry remains restrained is a R748m loss of tourism expenditure and the further permanent loss of much needed jobs,” he said.
The estimated loss of employment currently stands at 600,000 direct jobs if the sector remains closed, with knock-on effects in other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and banking.
“We have made some strides in terms of ensuring that some parts of the sector become operational during lockdown,” said Tshivhengwa.
“Whilst we are frustrated with the current pace of the government’s response to our proposals, we must acknowledge some of our small wins such as the restaurant sector coming back online and continue to push for various areas in our sector to reopen by providing evidence to substantiate each case – and we are doing that daily.”
TBCSA chairperson Blacky Komani said: “The tourism industry has been affected by various international crises in the past and we have survived them, so we know we will survive this one.
“Covid-19 is a moving target, so the answer we have today may not be effective tomorrow. But we know that we must approach it with facts and data-driven strategy, open communication with government and we must continue to prove that our health protocols will help flatten the curve going into the future, as we continue to be responsible and be compliant.”
With South Africa recently becoming one of the countries in the world with the most Covid-19 infections, the council said it had become difficult for the government to give concessions to the industry, and it had since learnt to “break down the industry into smaller sections to increase the possibility of small wins contributing to bigger industry success”.
The council reassured members of its commitment to ensuring that the industry reopens and commences to operate to its full capacity, adding that it was asking for a further review of regulations.