The tourism and hospitality sector is still reeling from the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown. The impact is so dire and has left an economic bloodbath with businesses shutting down or shedding jobs.

The sector wants the government to inoculate the public quickly to get human immunity to ensure the safety of everybody.

But many hope for some relief from the much-anticipated Budget Speech by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday.

Tourism sector hoping for relief: 

 Tourism accounts for 2.8% of GDP

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the 2018 contribution of the tourism sector in South Africa, directly accounted for 2.8% of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which amounted to R139 billion, and this was projected to grow to R145.3 billion in the year 2019.

However, COVID-19 has reversed all the benefits and made it even more difficult for the sector. The sector wants the government to inoculate the public quickly to get human immunity, to ensure the safety of everybody.

Some of the business people in the industry are calling on the government to speed up the vaccination.

“While there is no silver bullet, the best thing we can possibly get is the fast rollout of the vaccine so we can get herd immunity, so the country comes out of the red or danger and so we get people moving. We need the international market, so we can get to some sort of rates of 2019. But that is going to take time, years. I’m not really sure how we are going to recover jobs that have been lost in the last year,” says Misty Mountain’s, Lisa Sheard.

While many businesses are barely surviving, with some closing down completely, municipal taxes and rates are also going up.

Sheard says this is a burden on their business. “The additional burden of having a 15% increase in our electricity will absolutely knock out some of the products off the shelf. It is almost impossible to break even now, plus there’s a pressure of rates.”

The sector is slowly picking up with domestic tourism showing a bit of resilience. The microbrewery has also being hit hard.

They lost six months of production due to the lockdown and alcohol sale ban: 

Relief funds

Sabie Brewery’s Susan Waring says their survival is dependent on the government relief funds.

“They relied on TERS which covers minimum wage or half of the salary, in the business side we had no funding.”

It is going to take the industry considerable time to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Speaking ahead of the Budget, Development Economist Dr. Nthabiseng Moleko says South Africa needs a budget that will speak to a decisive economic strategy: