Cape Town Cruise ship season set to continue despite coronavirus outbreak

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As of Sunday, the current cruise ship season in South Africa is scheduled to continue, despite the spread of the coronavirus. Officials are monitoring possible statements from a cabinet meeting to discuss the way forward for South Africa.

Cruise ship season ends in April.

A myriad of economic activities take place in Cape Town. It is one of the major tourist and business hubs on the continent.

The Cape Town harbour is a hive of activity. Not only do container ships and fishing vessels from around the world dock here, but the harbour is a point of entry for cruise ships.

Cruise ship arrivals to Cape Town harbour have been steadily increasing over the past several years with several iconic vessels expected to dock. The number of passengers and crew are expected to double during the current season from the previous one.

But scheduled dockings could change, pending new information and announcements by the national government. Screening for diseases, including the coronavirus, is in place.

Discussion about SA’s port of entries amid the COVID-19 outbreak: 

Dr. Jantie Taljaard, Head of Infectious Diseases at the Tygerberg Hospital, says Port health officials would identify coronavirus cases.

“Currently, Port Health officials would identify a case. Now, remember, ports throughout the world would at best identify 20% of infected cases coming through ports, it’s not the ideal way of doing it, but at least it’s the first net that thrown to pick up cases. We have been fortunate to also realise that there’s a wonderful adherence from residence to immediately identify themselves as well.”

Another major economic driver for the Western Cape and Cape Town is tourism. Several major events such as the Cape Epic, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Two Oceans Marathon and the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival have all been cancelled or postponed as a precaution.

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Dumminy says, “There has been a few cancellations of tour groups etcetera and I think one or two school groups. And also then checking with hotels, they say they have started seeing some cancellations which are a concern. When we look at our forward bookings, what we’ve realised is that we’ve seen an immediately a 10% decline in forward bookings from now until the end of May; so it is concerning for us.”

The DA says the impact of the coronavirus will be debated in Western Cape Provincial Parliament on Friday.