(29 Jul 2020) LEAD IN:
The tourist industry in South Africa is suffering tremendous losses as a strict lockdown continues to ban both domestic and international tourist trade.
The country reported nearly half a million confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday (28 July), making it the fifth highest caseload in the world.
On a normal sunny day in Cape Town, hundreds of tourists would be lining up to take the cableway to the top of Table Mountain.
Colourful parasols would crowd the beaches of Camps Bay and tourist guides would be taking groups of people on city tours.
But since the outbreak of the coronavirus, tourist activity has come to a complete stop.
Since March, South Africa has been under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to try to curb the spread of the virus. For those in the tourist industry, like Juma Mkwela, the lockdown has meant zero income for almost five months.
Mkwela is the founder of Juma Art Tours. His trips connect local families and tourists to give visitors a unique experience of getting to know neighbourhoods like Khayelitsha and Woodstock.
“Since March with the pandemic, it came when I would say a lot of tourism businesses, also like my business, we were not ready or not so much aware. And also even if we were told this is what’s going to happen, we have to shut down, we thought maybe this thing was going to be just for a couple of weeks, then it disappears, then we’ll get back to normal,” he says.
“So it is almost now five months and it has been a big, big, big challenge because if you look at our business we used to get guests every day, so bookings every day. There was no single day that we never had even one person. So between 1 to 10 people every day. Going from one to 10 pax or one to 10 guests every day to zero. So our business, we used to rely on day to day income and now we’ve had five months of zero income. So it has been a very, very big challenge.”
As many counties around the world begin to relax measures, the severity of the lockdown in South Africa is not without justification. Official figures posted on Tuesday (28 July 2020) show that the country has recorded at least 452,529 cases of coronavirus and 7,067 deaths.
That figure makes up more than half the reported cases on the African continent and is the fifth highest number of cases in the world.
The devastating effect on the local tourism industry is clear. The Tourism Business Council of South Africa estimates a loss of 44 million US dollars a day.
Cape Town Tourism is expecting to see 90,000 jobs axed in the province.
Many local businesses, backed by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), have called on the government to open local leisure tourism and allow domestic travel.
Mkwela says the government needs to think about small business and the long term impact of the continued lockdown.
“I don’t see the reason of closing domestic tourism because if the government could resume domestic tourism it is going to give an advantage for people to start also understanding tourism and also it’s going to give the advantage for people in tourism to practice, like how are we going to take care of the international visitors when they come,” he says.
According to Cape Town Tourism, the city’s destination marketing organisation, 56 percent of businesses surveyed have no recovery plan in place to mitigate the effects of the virus.
The South African government has not yet provided any dates for when the lockdown will be lifted or further eased.
Find out more about AP Archive:
You can license this story through AP Archive: