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On 27 March 2020, the tourism sector was shut down completely when the lockdown was enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), income for the tourist accommodation industry fell by 98% in May 2020 compared to last year. The TBCSA emphasised that the tourism sector lost more than R68-billion due to the national lockdown and approximately 600 000 direct tourism jobs would be lost in 2020.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Since then, South Africa’s tourism sector has witnessed a rebound. The eased restrictions allow citizens to move across provincial borders for all purposes, including leisure, but international tourism is still prohibited.

According to Xinhua news agency, in the past few days, visitations by locals to tourist destinations have escalated, including national parks, theme parks, amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centres, zoos, aquariums, science centres, nature and game reserves.

South African National Parks (SANParks) has reported a substantial spike in bookings which caused its website to crash last week. Several other travel agencies have also seen a progressive increase in hotel reservations as well as other accommodation facilities.

Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane commented, “With the re-opening of the tourism sector, the government expects to forge a new path toward recovery as many people in the sector return to work to provide for their families following months of hardship.”

Kubayi-Ngubane encouraged South Africans to not only support the tourism sector to help sustain businesses and jobs but to also enjoy our country’s beautiful tourist destinations after months of staying at home.

 

Originally written in Mena FN

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