South Africa: Coronavirus Affecting Tourism Industry

Graphic illustrating the economic impact of COVID-19.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says the outbreak of the Coronavirus has already affected the tourism industry negatively.

The number of Coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to seven, after four more new cases were confirmed on Monday.

Speaking at the Tourism Leadership Forum held in Sandton, north of Johannesburg on Monday, Kubayi-Ngubane said on the African continent, cases have been reported in Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia.

"Here at home we now have seven confirmed cases of the virus, and it remains uncertain whether the number of cases will grow or the virus will be contained to just a few cases.

"Despite the fact we have had very few cases of the virus, the local tourism industry has already suffered serious losses," Kubayi-Ngubane said, adding that these losses are still going to increase.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the impact of the virus could lead to closure of businesses and severe job losses.

"In this scenario, the global economy descends into a recession and our country's economy suffers significant contraction for the year 2020," the Minister said.

Kubayi-Ngubane said to mitigate against the potential negative impact on businesses and jobs, government will work with all stakeholders to implement measures that will assist to bring relief to affected businesses and individuals.

"The longer these restrictions continue, the hardest hit part of the value chain will be the core industries which include accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation and travel service," the Minister said.

Kubayi-Ngubane said government will engage treasury to assist businesses in distress to access the employment incentives that have been put in place and will negotiate with various meeting and events owners to postpone to future dates based on scenarios to minimise cancellations.

"The economic impact of the Coronavirus will be felt in every corner of the world and almost every sector of the economy," the Minister said.

The seven were part of a group of 10, who recently returned to South Africa from a skiing holiday in Milan, north of Italy, where they reportedly contacted the virus.

The Department of Health has embarked on a rigorous campaign of tracing every person the seven individuals have been in contact with since returning to South Africa just over a week ago.

Some of the identified patients had shown symptoms, while others had not. However, they have all been placed on self-quarantine at home or have been admitted in hospital.

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