Statement issued by James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Tourism at the City of Cape Town   

With the peak visitor season just weeks away, there is a sense of ‘now or never’ in terms of four critical issues that must be addressed in order to help get the local tourism industry – and the larger economy – on the road to recovery.

The first is the issue of the UK’s so-called travel ‘red list’ which deters British travellers from visiting listed countries because of its massive quarantine costs upon return. The UK is our biggest single tourist source market and experts estimate that the local economy is losing around R26 million in revenue every single day we go without seeing these travellers.  With the vaccines now widely available across South Africa and more than 15 million jabs administered, not to mention that our country’s Covid-19 infection rate is less than a quarter of that of the UK (and dropping), there is no legitimate reason to keep us on this red list.

This leads into my continued call for National Government to announce a remote worker visa. Cape Town is already a highly favoured location for digital nomads who tend to be high-income spenders. Enabling the visa – with specific parameters – would simply require provisions of the Immigration Act for a period longer than three months. I’m sure many travellers from the Northern Hemisphere would love to escape the winter weather and instead do their work from one of Cape Town’s beautiful beaches!

Similarly, the National Transport Department must heed our call and approve Delta’s request to fly to Cape Town. The US is a key tourist market with the majority of American travellers including the Mother City in their itineraries. The Transport Department’s decision to inconvenience international travellers in this way will severely impact Cape Town – and thus South Africa’s – tourism industry.

Lastly, National Government needs to look at reducing aviation taxes for domestic flights as a way of lowering the cost of air travel. This would make flights much more affordable for South Africans who are now more budget-conscious than ever and who want and, dare I say deserve, to travel in and around their own beautiful country following months in lockdown.

Tourism is one of our most important industries in terms of job creation and the economy. We cannot afford to waste any more time or money on not resolving these matters.

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