After weeks of confusion over the interpretation of the gazetted notice on June 25 , government has changed regulations banning accommodation for leisure travel, leaving the tourism industry gutted and deeply concerned for its future.
The new regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Sunday evening (July 12) now include a specific economic exclusion for hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, timeshare facilities and resorts and guest houses for leisure purposes.
“I am deeply concerned by the effective banning of all leisure tourism accommodation as promulgated in regulations yesterday,” said Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde. “The tourism sector, which employs over 200 000 people in the Western Cape (direct and indirect) has been dealt a severe blow, without proper scientific evidence or reasoning to support it being excluded.
“Leisure tourism accommodation that can open safely, following proper safety protocols, should be allowed to do so. The failure to do this will likely see the sector decimated, with more than 50% of jobs being lost. The knock-on effect for the overall Western Cape economy will be severe.”
Winde said he would be raising this concern directly with the President as a matter of urgency.
During a meeting of Parliament’s portfolio committee on tourism last Thursday (July 9), when asked questions by the Democratic Alliance (DA) about the research, empirical evidence and data that was used to ascertain the timeline for the reopening of the tourism sector, officials admitted that this was not based on data and even confirmed that they did “not know how much longer” the tourism sector would remain closed, says Shadow Minister of Tourism, Manny de Freitas.
“The Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, and her delegation presented the revised budget of her department. The presentation essentially indicated that the sector would open up any time between 12 and 24 months’ time,” he says.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is “reviewing its options and will keep members updated as to the next steps”, SATSA (a member of TBCSA), said in a statement.
De Freitas added that, although the Minister had indicated that she was aware of the job losses en masse within the sector, her “mind-boggling reply” to another DA question was that employees, upon becoming employed, must enquire from their employees “if the employer is sustainable”.
“Again, the Minister demonstrates that she is herself a tourist of her portfolio. She simply does not understand the sector or even business in general and is now resorting to making up ‘facts’ to justify her incompetence as hundreds of thousands of South Africans continue to lose their jobs,” said De Freitas.
The TBCSA has been lobbying for the reopening of South Africa’s international borders by September this year, as around 600 000 to 700 000 direct tourism jobs are on the line, with up to 1,5 million indirect jobs.
Tourism Update understands that the TBCSA will convene a meeting later today to discuss a way forward.
The amendments that are important to note from the previous gazetted notification:
- Page 6: Hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, timeshare facilities and resorts and guest houses, except to the extent that these facilities are required for accommodation by:
- The remaining tourists confined to such facilities;
- Persons for work purposes, and
- Persons in quarantine or isolation.
- Page 8: A specific economic exclusion has been added for hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts, timeshare facilities and resorts and guest houses, for leisure purposes.
Short-term home-sharing, letting, leasing or rental, as well as domestic passenger air travel and ships for leisure purposes remain banned.