Lee Zamekile Zama, CEO of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA), has welcomed tonight’s announcement that international travel will reopen from 01 October 2020.

She says, “This all-important step to reopening our borders will be the lifeline we need to start opening sustainably and help reignite the economy. We do so slightly bruised, as we were among the first and hardest hit by the lockdown, but tourism is resilient. As the industry earmarked to deliver the sustainable and inclusive growth South Africa’s economy needs right now, we relish the opportunity to get back to work safely.”

Despite the resumption of domestic tourism under lockdown Level 1, hotel occupancies remain below 20%.

Lee Zamekile Zama, CEO FEDHASA

While the reopening of borders is a lifeline, Zama stresses that much more is needed to help the hospitality sector recover. Despite the resumption of domestic tourism under lockdown Level 1, hotel occupancies remain below 20%.

“Our 2020 occupancy levels are well below break-even for normal hotel trading. Hotels are high fixed cost businesses and trading below breakeven results in severely negative cash flows, which in turn has a significant impact on the livelihoods of staff employed in this sector. Many hotels are still closed because of the low demand,” she explains.

READ: International travel to gradually resume from October

“It is my sincere hope that this collaboration continues and that public and private sector stakeholders work together to get South Africa’s tourism, travel and hospitality community back on their feet swiftly while ensuring our travellers and staff are safe.”

For this reason, Zama urges the sector to continue to collaborate and work together; “As an industry we have come together and worked tirelessly to ensure that travel is both safe and normal for our visitors and guests, no matter where in the world they come from. It is my sincere hope that this collaboration continues and that public and private sector stakeholders work together to get South Africa’s tourism, travel and hospitality community back on their feet swiftly while ensuring our travellers and staff are safe.”

“Now more than ever comes the opportunity for public and private sector to collaborate in word and deed and to leverage South Africa’s competitive advantage as a global tourism player.”

David Frost, CEO SATSA

David Frost, CEO of the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), shares this view. He says, “Now more than ever comes the opportunity for public and private sector to collaborate in word and deed and to leverage South Africa’s competitive advantage as a global tourism player. This is the industry that has been earmarked as a catalyst for inclusive economic growth. As such, tourism should be prioritised if it is going to make the contribution it has to potential to make to pull the South African economy out of these stormy waters.”

Through the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), strict health and hygiene safety protocols for the tourism industry were developed. These are based on international best practice and endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Subsequently, the protocols have been rolled out across the tourism value chain under the banner ‘Travel Safe – Eat Safe’.

“Our industry is ready to receive guests,” says Zama. “We have protocols in place to mitigate any risk associated with COVID-19 and have developed a Travel Safe-Eat Safe mobile app to ensure that the information of guests and participating establishments are logged electronically. South Africa is Travel Ready.”