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South Africa Is Travel Ready: There’s Demand And We Can Operate Safely

As South Africa’s Covid-19 infection rate declines and government announces a further reopening of the economy, the tourism sector confirms it is ready to reopen safely and says there’s demand for leisure travel.

The announcement this week that South Africa would be instituting Level 2 on 18 August 2020 is welcome news for many industries which have been crippled by the lockdown regulations limiting their operations. This is no more evident than in the tourism sector, which was among the first and hardest hit of all industries and will likely be the last to be reopened fully.

The announcement that inter-provincial leisure travel will now be allowed will provide a much-needed lifeline for tourism businesses which have been amongst the hardest hit by the impact of Covid-19 since even before the lockdown in South Africa. Even with the small reopening of intra-provincial domestic leisure travel, we have already seen that there is pent-up demand for tourism and travel.

Last week, online accommodation booking system provider, NightsBridge, confirmed it had recorded some 9 389 bookings across 2 646 properties for 9 August long weekend, with the Western Cape receiving most of the benefit. NightsBridge Managing Director Theresa Emerick, says that for establishments in many other provinces, especially Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo, inter-provincial leisure travel would need to be opened up to provide a lifeline for accommodation providers who are reliant on the domestic market from Gauteng.

“Although we only received 38% of last year’s travel volume back over the comparable weekend, there was certainly a sharp spike in bookings since the official announcement that intra-provincial leisure travel was allowed. The next steps to the reopening of the sector is inter-provincial leisure travel, which many accommodation providers in provinces surrounding Gauteng desperately need for their survival,” says Emerick.

Assessing forward bookings for South Africa’s high season, NightsBridge reports about a third of bookings (25 630) have been made for December 2020 to February 2021 versus the same point last year which saw 77 175 bookings for December 2019 to February 2020.

Travel Safe – Eat Safe
Driving demand is the commitment by tourism providers across the value chain to ensure the safety and wellbeing of guests and staff. To this end, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has launched its Travel Safe – Eat Safe Certification Programme incorporating a robust set of tourism protocols that have received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) stamp of approval.

The stamp will allow customers to recognise businesses in South Africa which have already adopted world-class health and hygiene protocols for safe travel, indicating our readiness as a travel destination for both domestic and international guests.

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