The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is “hopeful” that the tourism sector will fully reopen before February 15.
So said TBCSA CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, in his latest industry update, highlighting that the tourism body had submitted supporting documents to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure to reopen open spaces such as beaches, readjust the curfew, and reinstate all water-based activities.
“We are waiting for further communication regarding our submissions,” he said.
Tshivhengwa reiterated that while the TBCSA supported the short-term measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 – announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on December 28 – it opposed the decision to extend the level-three lockdown without adjusting the short-term measures that were put in place for the festive season.
“He [the President] did not consult with the TBCSA or other organisations representing labour or business.”
“Our sector continues to face several challenges exacerbated by the extended lockdown, and our goal remains to ensure that the industry is opened FULLY and remains sustainable, despite COVID-19,” said Tshivhengwa.
Sector relief needed
He said last year had been a challenging one for the industry and the situation continued to be critical. To address this, the TBCSA has been engaging with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) through the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) to find a way forward on UIF funds for the industry.
“The outcome of our discussions is yet to be determined but we are hopeful that our efforts will lead to the provision of funds to the industry,” Tshivhengwa said.
Furthermore, the TBCSA has been having discussions with the Banking Association – also through NEDLAC – to provide interventions that can alleviate the financial pressure on the industry, such as providing interest rate cuts, payment holidays and extension of payments, amongst others.
The TBCSA has also called for the industry to be prioritised when it comes to the COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme.
“In particular, we have suggested that the tourism industry benefits from a ring-fenced fund within the COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme that will not prejudice the tourism industry based on its high-risk profile caused by inconsistent regulations imposed by the government,” explained Tshivhengwa.