The Tourism Business Council of South Africa says that the announcement of the detection of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has not helped the already battered tourism industry.
The council’s CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, says that no context has been given to what will happen following the discovery of this variant.
Tshivhengwa shares the concerns among people in the tourism industry:
The World Health Organisation has officially classified Omicron as a variant of concern. Several countries have already imposed travel bans on South Africa and other southern African countries.
Tshivhengwa says this is extremely worrying.
“Every country in the world is announcing that they don’t desire anyone who is coming from the southern African region, and especially South Africa, being the hub of the region. So we are in a situation where it’s a freefall. The only thing we need to do is to protect the domestic market. We do have healthy bookings that are coming through to December and January, we need to protect those, and you know I’ve heard of the talks, possible bans that may be imposed here at home and we need to avoid those at all cost.”
KZN Tourism worried
KwaZulu-Natal Tourism MEC Ravi Pillay says that they’re concerned about the new coronavirus variant in South Africa ahead of the festive season.
The new variant has triggered a travel ban on the country by some European nations including the UK.
KwaZulu-Natal is a popular festive season holiday destination among local and international travellers.
Pillay says that they were encouraged by the recent influx of visitors to the province during the Inter-Africa trade conference. He says they are concerned that the new variant will affect the current increase in hotel bookings.
“I think we are more concerned about the reaction of the UK and the European countries in restricting travel. And we had been very encouraged by what we thought was going to be a good recovery, our hotels were for after a long time, were starting to get filled and it was a real boost to our tourism sector. So, we are concerned about the impact on our tourists on an international level.”