Since the closure of South Africa’s borders from March this year, the country’s tourism sector has lost R363-million per day in revenue.

Now, more than five months later the industry is calling on government to re-open the borders and permit international travel.

CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, says they are confident that if the borders are opened, there will be no greater risk posed by COVID-19, provided global best practices and protocols are followed.

“Tourism from an international point of view has been closed from the beginning of lockdown. For every day that we have been closed, around R363 million has been lost per day. We do acknowledge that we are open for domestic travel and we believe that opening up the borders for international leisure travel poses no further risk than where we are and we believe that we can do so safely on the basis of the protocols that have been developed. In fact, it will get more people back to work. It will get more companies earning an income and sustain this tourism industry.”

Economic data reveals the devastating effect of COVID-19 on SA economy

Economic data continues to tell the story of the devastating effects that COVID-19 and the lockdown have had on the economy.

Stats SA’s tourist accommodation data shows that total income for the tourist accommodation industry decreased by 95.3% in June when compared to the same time last year.

There was a 92.3% decrease in the number of stay unit nights sold.

The main negative contributors to the year-on-year decrease in income came from hotels and other accommodation.

Land Transport Survey

Stats SA has also released the Land Transport Survey for June.  It shows the volume of goods transported decreased by 20% in June 2020 compared to the same time last year.

The corresponding income decreased by 16.8% over the same period. Income from freight transportation decreased in the second quarter, with the main negative contributors coming from a decrease in primary mining and quarrying products, basic metals products, and manufactured food, beverages, and tobacco products.

In terms of passenger transportation, the number of passenger journeys decreased by 63.1% in June compared to the same time last year.

The corresponding income decreased by 58.7% over the same period. Road passenger journeys decreased by 53.5% and rail passenger journeys decreased by 99.2%

Stats SA will this week release the statistics of civil cases for debt for June and building statistics of the private sector as reported by local government institutions.

Over 120 million direct jobs could be lost in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic – Guterres

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that some 120 million direct jobs could be lost in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revealed in his latest policy brief related to the impacts the pandemic is having on various sectors.

The brief argues that the crisis has provided an opportunity to rethink how tourism interacts with societies, other economic sectors, and our natural resources and ecosystems and calls for urgency in mitigating the impacts on livelihoods, especially for women, youth and informal workers.

Guterres says tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors:

“It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. It boosts economies and enables countries to thrive. It allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity. Indeed, one might say that tourism is itself one of the wonders of the world. That is why it has been so painful to see how tourism has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and some $320 billion dollars in exports from tourism were lost. Overall, some 120 million direct jobs in tourism are at risk. Many are in the informal economy or in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ a high proportion of women and young people. The crisis is a major shock for developed economies, but for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries. For women, rural communities, indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations, tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment and generating income.”