The Tourism, Trade and Investment promotion agency for the Western Cape, Wesgro, says the cancellation of the 2020/2021 cruise ship season could badly impact the country’s economy.

Wesgro says government failed to give the green light for one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism to re-open despite safety measures and COVID-19 protocol put in place. Cruise season is due to start in October.

Wesgro acting CEO, Yaw Peprah, says the number of tour vessels visiting the Cape Town vessel terminal has increased since the second half of 2017.

“The rand value spent by the vessels docked there is roughly two million rand. And this is largely spent by the crew members and the highest areas that they spend it on is the hotels, the processing, the transport and the meals for the cruise, this doesn’t include terminal charges at all, it doesn’t include port charges, the ground handlers, it doesn’t include the tour operators. So the industry has got lots of fingers that it feeds into once the ship docks here,” adds Peprah.

DA MP for Tourism, Manny de Freitas, says he will take the matter up by asking questions in parliament.

“People have lost their jobs on cruising, and despite the plan for the cruise industry to start cruising this year, and having their act together, government has not been able to get their act together and ensure that cruises can start this year. And now adding the looting to Durban port, which is now the situation where it cannot receive cruises, it’s almost definite that it will completely kill cruising this year, in the very least,” says De Freitas.

The transport department was not immediately available to comment.