Business people and players in the tourism industry have held a protest march from White River to the City of Mbombela in Mpumalanga to plead with government to re-open the tourism sector.

The tourism industry says it has suffered a major blow since the coronavirus outbreak and says government seems to have forgotten about the sector as others have been allowed to open.

In the video below, the SABC looks at the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the tourism industry. 

Driving their safari vehicles, they handed over a memorandum of their grievances to the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency.

Tour guides who joined the protest say the situation is very bad and they demand that the sector be open.

The tourism business people are criticising government for allowing taxis to operate at 100% capacity, when making short distance trips. However, they are not allowed to transport tourists in their open safari vehicles.

Leading the protest march, Hylton Langley, says they are fed up with the government neglecting their sector, which plays an important role in the country’s GDP.

“We bring what? R748 million a day! So, how much are we losing at the moment? Basically, the government said – and we agree the COVID-19 is not a nice thing – but we have 98% ruffle; we can create rate for survival rate. The COVID-19 is coming already. Other countries have started opening up. Basically, what the government has said (is that) ‘you can’t have any tourists.’ We don’t have money coming in and the government R350 can’t pay off my cars.”

Manager at the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, Musa Mahlangu, received their memorandum.

Mahlangu says it will be handed over to the board.

“It’s going to be tabled in the office of the CEO with the view of being processed internally by the board to the provincial government for all us to take a bite to hear what the industry is saying. These are the issues that are discussed at the national level in terms of how the industry can be assisted and how the industry can open up given the health protocols that needs to be followed in terms of fully opening up the tourism sector.”

The business people say hotels, national parks and heritage sites must be opened for international tourism immediately.

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