Our world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020, COVID-19 has become a global emergency, given its impact on the entire world population and the economy.
The outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19 presents the tourism sector with a major and evolving challenge, it has actually caused havoc across the world. The World Travel and Tourism Council has warned the COVID-19 pandemic could cut 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry. Asia is expected to be the worst affected. Once the outbreak is over, it could take up to 10 months for the industry to recover.
Over the past few weeks, COVID-19 has compelled countries, including our government, to devise a set of measures ranging from travel bans to events cancellations and now a lockdown in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. The president of South Africa, his excellence Cyril Ramaphosa enforced of a 21 days nationwide lockdown with effect from Thursday 26th March 2020 until midnight on Thursday 16th April 2020. On the 9th of April the president extended the nationwide lockdown by a further two weeks beyond the 21 days.
This lockdown is imposing restrictions on movement which means that all South Africans will have to stay at home. No one will be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or to collect a social grant. No business is allowed to operate, including tour operators, restaurants, hotels among others. South Africa’s tourism industry is one of the first to feel the shockwaves of the Covid-19 global economic shutdown.
The Minister of Transport Mr. Fikile Mbalula announced various regulations around transport during the lockdown. Included in these regulations is aviation. During the lockdown, all domestic and international air travel will be prohibited. The national lockdown only permits industries operating under the category of ‘essential services’ to continue functioning throughout the lockdown. Tourism is not an essential service and therefore needs to adhere to the lockdown regulations that came into effect on 27th March 2020. This will no doubt impact on the tourism sector negatively.
Our message to travelers and tourists’ is; ‘DON’T CANCEL, POSTPONE’ so that you can enjoy your holiday once the spread of the virus is contained. Travel2Africa offices will remain closed, however we will be receiving and responding to emails during the lockdown period. We can never over-emphasize the need for all of us to play our part and do everything within our means to avoid contact with other people as we work towards a common goal to reduce the overall number of infections, and to delay the spread of infection over a longer period.