Afristay said it conducted a study with its 15,000 travel accommodation establishments and received 750 replies.
The highlights of its findings were:
- Only 1 in 3 travel establishments say their business has returned to normal
- 41% of establishments said their businesses are still severely impacted
- Only 53% of establishments have returned to their normal staffing levels
- 1 in 3 establishments are still operating with less than half their usual staff
When South Africa entered its hard lockdown on 27 March 2020, it was initially set to only last for 21 days.
This was soon extended, and restrictions were only slightly eased in May and June.
South Africa’s borders remained closed to all but essential travel until mid-August. Crossing provincial boundaries was also not allowed.
Not only had international travel been cut off, local tourism and business travel was also not happening.
Even after restrictions started lifting, the beta variant was detected in South Africa, resulting in many countries restricting travel.
South Africa became an international pariah once again last year when its scientists reported the first details of the omicron variant to the world.
The travel restrictions imposed on South Africa and its residents did little to stop the new Covid–19 variant from sweeping across the globe.
As travel limitations once again eased, some green shoots are evident in the tourism sector.
However, representatives have pleaded with the government to relax Covid-19 regulations further and allow them to reopen for business fully and create jobs.
Bloomberg reported last year that tourism accounted for almost 1.5 million jobs in a country with the highest unemployment rate in the world.
Among the restrictions members of the travel industry would like to see relaxed is the requirement for travellers to obtain a negative PCR test result before coming to South Africa.
This creates a significant problem for tourists who want to visit remote places in South Africa’s neighbouring countries where tests aren’t readily available.
Another issue is the lack of certainty. It’s of no use if Covid–19 restrictions are relaxed if there is no guarantee they won’t simply be re-imposed and leave tourists stranded.
Afristay provided the following charts summarising the results of its study.