South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona said the coronavirus (COVID-19) is already having an impact in the country’s tourism sector and there is an ongoing process to assess its impact further. Ntshona said South Africa cannot separate itself from the effect that COVID-19 is already having in the global tourism industry. Cape Town Tourism this week announced that there has been a 10% drop in international tourist bookings to the city.
“It’s an ongoing process and we are still tallying or to have a sense of how deep the problem is. You can imagine that part of our drive is to have a lot of foreign tourists coming to South Africa. They spend money in this economy, in restaurants, shopping, buying goods and services so that our Gross Domestic Product can go up. Now with not so many of them now deciding not to come, they are actually living a gap behind, and that is a direct impact on airlines, hotels, shuttles, restaurants and many other sectors,” said Ntshona.
Ntshona says the virus has already led to some international events being cancelled and some countries partially closing their borders or limiting the number of people who can attend an event. He added that this virus has affected global markets which also affect tourism.
“Globally trade is under pressure. We’ve seen the New York Stocks Exchange being suspended due to shares being sold off. The Johannesburg Stocks Exchange is no different. Tourism within that one is also affected because as a result of the virus. People around the world are not just as confident as before to travel, so we see less travel numbers globally as well and South Africa is also part of that,” highlighted Ntshona.
He said they are still waiting for a cabinet meeting which will decide on the country’s stance on the impact of the virus. Ntshona said he is happy with the way the Department of Health is spearheading the fight against the coronavirus. He stressed that “the tourism sector has to consolidate and make sure that when this dust turn, we have to make sure that we are in front of the line and can recover quickly to previous levels.”
Meanwhile, during a recent Tourism Leadership Forum held in Sandton, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane also echoed Ntshona’s comments about the impact of COVID-19 in the tourism industry.
“Despite the fact we have had very few cases of the virus, the local tourism industry has already suffered serious losses. The longer these restrictions continue, the hardest hit part of the value chain will be the core industries which include accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation and travel service,” said the Minister. She also assured tourism stakeholders that government will implement measures that will assist to bring relief to affected businesses and individuals.
The Health Department on Wednesday confirmed six new coronavirus cases, which brought the total confirmed cases to 13 in the country.