CEO of the Tourism Business Council South Africa, Tshifiwa Tshivhengwa, has provided additional context to the article around the post-COVD-19 protocols.

He pointed out that the context behind the development of these protocols/guidelines was driven by the risk-adjusted strategy announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. In this strategy, domestic travel will only start opening in December, and the international market will only open in February 2020.

“As the TBCSA, we had to either wait until those months to open or do something about it. If we are to wait until December 2020, there wouldn't be anything to wait for, and we will not have any travel and tourism companies/suppliers/etc. We, therefore, asked our members to go out and consult widely within the value chain of tourism on these protocols,” said Tshivhengwa.

“The aim is to demonstrate that travel and tourism does not have to wait until December to reopen, but this can be done much earlier (e.g., Level 3),” he added.

The sectors that have been allowed to open have demonstrated and committed to following protocols/guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These protocols must also be read in conjunction with all applicable legislation, directives, and policies issued by the government from time to time.

“In summary, we either wait for travel and tourism to reopen in December 2020, or we develop protocols and get some aspects of the industry to open, we chose the latter. We are fully aware of the difficulty ahead, but if we don't collectively demonstrate our commitment to following protocols or if we open and fail to follow protocols, we will be shut-down until this virus is under control. If a cure/vaccine/or the virus get under control, these protocols will be relaxed.”

 

Writing in response to Tshivhengwa’s clarification, Tourism Update reader, Sharon Gilbert-Rivett, had this to say:

In response to your concerns above, I do understand the reasoning behind drawing up the protocols, but as has been said also below, there is a huge danger that the more extensive and complicated the protocols, the more unworkable they become to those they are intended to assist.

In marketing there is a very sound principle - KEEP IT SIMPLE. It's the principle of “less is more”.

We are definitely overcooking the goose with the protocols the way they are. They are cumbersome and, frankly, unworkable for the most part. However, they do contain salient points and processes that could, if reworked, provide a solid benchmark for this industry, when used as GUIDELINES that are also congruent with existing legislation.

 I would encourage you (Tshifhiwa) to take a step back, look at simplifying the protocols and remove the "panic" from the equation.

You also need to look at what other countries who are moving towards opening tourism, or have in fact opened tourism, are doing in terms of testing, managing and containing the virus. We need to keep in mind the untold damage that unabridged birth certificates did to our tourism economy and understand that whatever protocols are ultimately agreed upon, they have to ultimately be guest-friendly and not dissuade people from visiting our country.

The challenges of getting them here are going to be enormous. Once we have gotten them here, let's not treat them like pariahs but be sensible and sensitive in the processes we employ to ensure their health and ours.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

View the COVID-19 Protocols for Tourism Industry Operations here.