The announcement by the South African Department of Health that COVID restrictions would be dropped entirely – for both domestic and international travel – came as a lifeline for tourism in the country.
Of all the mainstream economic activities affected by the pandemic-related isolation, the tourism sector was by far the hardest hit.
Tourism in South Africa, pre-COVID, was worth more than R130 billion, made up 4,5% of the country’s employment, and contributed 3% directly to GDP.
“In July 2021, only 5,000 overseas tourists visited South Africa – a mere 2.6% of the number that arrived in the same month two years earlier,” said economic advisor Dr Roelof Botha. “The good news is that the recovery of the domestic tourism industry should make up lost ground once spring arrives.”
GILTEDGE Executive Chairman, Sean Kritzinger expressed his relief that the tourism industry could look forward to a rebound.
“Our travel industry has by no means normalised as yet,” he said. “We have been under close scrutiny for the last two years, we were on a UK Red List that restricted our travel over December last year – and December is one of our peak international seasons. These did enormous damage to the industry. I believe that the repeal of these regulations, as they have been gazetted, will be a huge boost for tourism to South Africa and the greater Southern African region – it is high time!”
“It is important that we get back to pre-COVID normality. Now that regulations and restrictions are repealed…. I am excited about the prospect. This is hugely rewarding for tourism for our entire region,” he said.