On 03 December 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa urged all South Africans to be extremely vigilant about practicing the recommended precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The warning follows an increase in infection rates as the summer holidays approach, and a worrying number of “hot spots” in the country. ASATA, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents, has since echoed this sentiment, specifically addressing the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.Through the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, these sectors have put thorough health and safety protocols in place, which have been endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council. If followed correctly, these will be effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. “What we need now is their consistent implementation and a heightened commitment by all stakeholders in the tourism and travel value chain to ensuring their customers are complying strictly with these,” says Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA. “It’s up to us to ensure we don’t go back to where we were before and that means proper implemention of the comprehensive protocols that have been devised specifically for our sector and managing the compliance of our customers, guests and travellers. It really is that simple.”
“It’s up to us to ensure we don’t go back to where we were before and that means proper implemention of the comprehensive protocols that have been devised specifically for our sector and managing the compliance of our customers, guests and travellers.”Part of the President’s speech included the announcement that increased restrictions would be applied on Nelson Mandela Bay. This is because the area has been identified as a hotspot. The President also warned that other metros which are identified as hotspots could face similar enhanced interventions. The risk of this happening should be a wake-up call, says de Vries, as the reintroduction of strict lockdown measures would be devastating for the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. “It’s in our hands. As President Ramaphosa stated, we can still prevent the virus from spreading any further if we take the appropriate steps now. We must stand together and work together,” concludes de Vries.