Eastern Cape tourism concerned over possible closure of beaches

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There have been mixed reactions from the tourism sector and the public on the proposal of the Eastern Cape government to close all the beaches during the festive season. The proposal was taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

The proposal has been sent to the National Command Council for consideration.

The tourism industry is still trying to recover in the midst of pandemic, and with the second wave of COVID-19 hitting the Eastern Cape Province hard.

The economic hub of the province, Nelson Mandela Bay, has been declared the epicentre of the coronavirus in the country. A radical approach has to be taken such as the closure of beaches and recreational parks.

Nelson Mandela Bay declared COVID-19 hotspot:

Chairperson of the Port Elizabeth Bed and Breakfast Association, Shena Wilmot says that this could have devastating consequences to the tourism sector.

“We have struggled through this year in the hospitality trade. Everyone was pinning their hopes on the end of the year. Now, it looks like it’s not going to happen because who wants to come on holiday and have to sit in their room. It’s such a very difficult situation because we know this virus is very real,” says Wilmot.

The tourism industry hopes the National Command Council will be accommodative and not use the blanket approach.

“I would love to see us put stakes on the beach and let people gather around those. What I would love to see is that we don’t close walking on the beach because you can still get the experience and we’ve got many nature trails along the beach. Hopefully, there’s a bit of softening to it. I understand why it’s being done. We have lost someone to COVID, but yah, it’s tough for tourism,” says Shaun Van Eck, CEO of NMB Tourism.

The public did not take kindly the news.

“It’s bad because the beaches are where people get together and enjoy themselves. As long as they take care of themselves then I don’t see a problem with them coming to the beaches,” says a resident.

“I think it’s quite sad, really. It’s quite open, the wind is blowing. I think it’s quite fine to be outside. They should rather concentrate on indoor places,” says another resident.

“They must patrol the area 24/7, not allowing any crowds, drinking or social activities. Just taking a walk, release stress and things like that. But social gatherings should not be allowed,” says a resident.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation tonight on the developments of COVID-19 in the country.