How is South Africa coping without Tourism and what does the Industry’s Future Look like?

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

South Africa’s breathtaking beauty attracts thousands of tourists each year. From the magnificent beaches and mountains, to the diverse flora and fauna, South Africa’s main income is tourism. This year, because of COVID-19 crisis, tourists numbers are overwhelmingly low. How is the nation coping with this?

Covid-19 has struck South Africa hard. It is among the 5 worst affected nations in the world. 

With its game parks, beaches and historic sites, Africa attracts a huge number of foreign tourists but numbers are sharply down because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Many hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions in the country have also been struck hard by the pandemic. As a result of the crisis the world is facing, tourism has been obviously shut down. However, this will have serious consequences for the business and for the country as well.

As guests are not going, the only income those businesses have is the social grant from the government.

They fear their businesses won’t survive the pandemic because they cannot afford all the expenses they have to pay and they have to feed their families some way. 

Travellers are suffering from anxiety

International flights are starting to run again in some countries on the continent. However, this may bring a new outbreak of coronavirus. 

What a dilemma! The country needs tourists for the economic situation to improve, but that may cause the health crisis to worsen. 

According to the UN's World Tourism Organization, Africa received 71.2 million tourists in 2019 and the sector employed nearly 25 million people. 

A report by the BBC has shown that travel and tourism contribute 9% to the continent's economy but global movement restrictions and virus-induced travel anxiety have kept most people in Europe and North America at home as the summer holiday season begins. 

"Psychologically, people don't necessarily feel safe enough to travel and even then, unemployment numbers are going up so disposable income isn't where it needs to be any more," said Eche Emole, who runs the events and travel company Afropolitan Group.

What will the recovery take?

South Africa has been the hardest hit country by Covid-19 on the continent. This means that the country may not play host to foreign tourists at all in 2020.

Sisa Ntshona, chief executive officer of South Africa Tourism, said that international tourism within this calendar year is not expected. 

He expects that it may take two to three years to return to 2019 levels of 10.2 million tourists that visited the southern African nation.

Looking at the Future

Many believed that the virus in the country started to spread because of foreign tourists. However, it is more likely that South Africans who had travelled abroad imported the virus.

According to reports, at the beginning of the lockdown, about 83% of businesses indicated that they would not survive longer than six months under lockdown restrictions.

The future of the tourism industry is as uncertain as all the other industries’ in the country. 

Many expect that the tourist attractions that involve outdoor activities are going to be the first ones to open because safety measures are easier to implement outdoors.

Tourists at hotels, resorts and other properties on the continent may see less human contact as the experience evolves in an age of social distancing.

What will surely change is the behaviour pattern of tourists. The less interaction people have, the safer they will feel. 

Like the rest of the industry, domestic tourism will probably be the first to recover as countries gradually ease lockdowns.

Are you interested in learning more about the tourism industry? Do you want to study tourism? Click here and take a look at the Tourism programmes offered by the best universities in South Africa. 

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