The tourist industry in South Africa is suffering tremendous losses as a strict lockdown continues to ban both domestic and international tourist trade.
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. Colorful 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.
“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.
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 July 28 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.
Some restrictions in South Africa are being eased, but local travel and alcohol sales are still not allowed and there is a curfew in place. The government has not yet provided any dates for when the lockdown will be lifted or further eased.
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