Hospitality association, FEDHASA, has reiterated its call for government to expedite measures that will restore confidence in the hospitality sector. This includes an accelerated roll-out of the country’s vaccination programme.
The statistics showed, amongst others, that income from accommodation decreased by 66.8% year-on-year in November 2020 – the result of a 52.7% decrease in the number of stay unit nights sold and a 29.7% decrease in the average income per stay unit sold. The largest decline in income was reported by hotels, which are down by 69.6%.
Equally dire findings were reported for the food and beverage sector, down 36.3% in November 2020 compared with November 2019. Despite the reintroduction of alcohol sales during this period, the largest decrease was recorded for bar sales (54.3%), while restaurants and coffee shops were the biggest contributor to the decline (51.3%), followed closely by catering services (50.3%).
FEDHASA National Chairperson, Rosemary Anderson, however voiced her concern that the income figures released by Stats SA did not reflect the number of hospitality businesses that had had no choice but to close doors.
“The real figure is even more alarming. Even though the hospitality industry is theoretically open, the constraints – which include tourist attractions such as beaches being closed, the reduction in the number of patrons allowed, reduced operating hours and the ban on the sale of liquor – make it financially unviable for many businesses to continue to operate,” she said.
According to her, other countries have been able to provide financial assistance for those impacted by lockdown rules. “Unfortunately, the same degree of assistance has not been able to be offered in South Africa.”
She highlighted that the impact of these inevitable business closures went far beyond the loss of income, but extended to the losses to the South African economy, municipalities, suppliers, many downstream entities as well as the loss of jobs.
“The current ban on alcohol is also having a dramatic effect on the fiscus, with many areas of taxes no longer being collected. Just the loss in excise taxes, which would otherwise be paid to SARS, is an average of R2.5bn (€138m) per month.”
Anderson pointed out that FEDHASA understood government’s “unenviable position” of shouldering the responsibility of balancing the health of its citizens against the health of the economy. “For this reason, it is critically important that a swift roll-out of a national vaccination programme is put in place to save thousands of lives and livelihoods.”
Anderson believes that, similar to the hospitality industry providing quarantine and isolation facilities when needed, the industry could have an important role to play in the roll-out of the vaccination programme. “Further public/private-sector consultation could shine a light on ways government and industry can collaborate to remove some of the potential roadblocks in the effort to get the population vaccinated as quickly as possible.”