The industry and its parent ministry likely expected to hear more on recovery measures and stimulus support in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening.
This is the view of Dr Kaitano Dube of the Department of Hospitality, Tourism & Public Relations at the Vaal University of Technology.
Apart from saying that work is underway to reform SA’s visa and immigration regime to grow the tourism sector, Ramaphosa announced that the special Covid-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefit will be extended until 15 March 2021, but only for those sectors that have not been able to operate.
Specifics around which sectors would be included would be announced at a later stage. Dube says delays with processing business tourist visas, for example, has a huge negative bearing, as investors then regard SA as, “… the destination of last resort”, in terms of wanting to bring skills that aren’t available in the country.
“An e-visa application is a welcome development always but for now, our focus would have been on how we can tap into [the] domestic and regional tourism market to provide industry much needed relief given insufficient budget support to the industry,” says Dube.
“I would have wanted the president to articulate plans to deal with incentivising the domestic tourism market and on how the country can tap into the regional tourism market, within SADC. Plans on how we are going to deal with the sort of challenges we have seen playing out at Beitbridge and other borders such as Lebombo border posts to promote regional tourism into the country.”
He points out that almost all borders in trans-frontier parks have been closed after Covid-19 restrictions with serious impacts on the regional tourism market. This needs attention.
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