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For months, the tourism industry has been lobbying for the government to open up tourism to prevent the closure of businesses and job losses in the sector.
The industry wishes were granted after Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced on Thursday afternoon that leisure travel will be allowed for intra-provincial travel and tour operators will be allowed to conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles.
The government also extended the curfew to 10pm.“Let me emphasise, it is only intra-provincial travel, not inter-provincial travel. Individuals are still not permitted to travel between provinces for leisure purposes,” she said.Some tourism role players who were vocal about the damage of not reopening tourism called the move “A welcome relief for tourism.”
CEO of Cape Town Tourism Enver Duminy said the organisation was delighted for the relief the relaxed regulations would bring to the hospitality industry. “As an industry, we are constantly fighting for survival during these unprecedented times, and these announcements are good news for the industry, even though we await the full regulations and directives to be published to understand what is and isn’t allowed in more detail.
“For example, we did not hear anything about attractions opening and whether normal tour busses or vehicles are allowed to operate as only open top safari type vehicles were mentioned,” he said. He said the easing of some restrictions comes as a relief as many people’s jobs and livelihoods were on the line.“This overall announcement and sentiment is welcomed and shows some movement in the right direction and we look forward to more clarity soon,” he added.
Western Cape finance and economic opportunities MEC David Maynier said the sector was ready to reopen. “We have repeatedly called for the opening of these sectors, who have already done a great deal of work to develop health and safety guidelines and protocols aimed at ‘de-risking’ the sector,“ He said the adjustments to the restrictions will help to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism and hospitality industry, but said it didn’t don’t go far enough.
“We will continue to engage with the national government on this. This finally brings to an end, months of flip-flopping that have caused immense financial damage and significant jobs losses that could have been avoided if a common-sense approach had been taken from the start. “We call on all people who can, to book a holiday or even just a night away, to support the tourism and hospitality sector in the Western Cape. We all need to contribute to economic recovery in the Western Cape – and supporting our accommodation sector, while visiting and supporting shops and restaurants in local towns at the same time has never been more important,” he said.