Tourism association, SATSA held a webinar on March 18 on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the tourism industry and the nation as a whole.

On the panel of the webinar:

  • National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) Epidemiology Deputy Director, Professor Lucille Blumberg
  • Tourvest Destination Management CEO, Martin Wiest
  • Secretary General of the Black Business Council, Judi Nwokedi
  • Employment law specialist and attorney at Solomonholmes, Theresa Achada and Anthony Solomon
  • Sales Thought Leadership Forum representative, Tony Romer-Lee
  • CEO of SATSA, David Frost

Frost began by addressing a key question for SATSA members about membership fees. “We need to do the work and lobbying on your behalf. I think it’s in all our interests that SATSA is preserved during this difficult time.

“To that extent we are open to payment terms and plan. We are acutely aware of the financial issues that all our members are experiencing.”

Blumberg explained that at this time no tests were being done for those who are asymptomatic as it would overwhelm the healthcare system. “Majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases but we know in time we will get complicated cases as the local transmissions increase and imported cases decrease due to the lockdown,” said Blumberg.

“We are at the beginning of our outbreak and we cannot give estimations of how long this will last,” said Blumberg. “China is seeing a resurgence of the virus after ending their lockdown and we need to learn from that. This is a critical period for us to ramp up our responses.

“I cannot say that the shutdown of all tourism businesses would curb the spread of the virus,” explained Blumberg. “I do encourage people to travel domestically but we do understand that people are afraid.”

Achada and Solomon explained the options available to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with the possible shutdown and slow-down of business.

“Ideally we would like to avoid retrenchments, but if a business simply cannot afford to employ people at this difficult time, the first step is to discuss lay-offs,” explained Solomon.

“The other option is short-time, where you negotiate that with employees. If no agreement can be reached with employees on these options, retrenchments may need to be discussed.”

Nwokedi gave the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac)’s response to COVID-19. “The COVID-19 crisis is calling on all of us to review and renew our trust in government,” said Nwokedi. “Nedlac has agreed with the government to do business differently and be innovative in our response.”

For those who would like to listen to the webinar, please click here to access the audio.