International travel restrictions: A different approach needed to save tourism
The risk-based approach regulating international travel released by national government yesterday (30 September 2020) is a major blow for the tourism and hospitality sector in the Western Cape.
The tourism and hospitality sector's survival is dependent on international leisure travellers in the summer season and for this reason it is critical that we look at smart ways to open our international borders, especially for our key source markets, so that we can save jobs and save the economy in the Western Cape.
And so, we will be engaging with national government and preparing a further submission proposing an alternative to the risk-based approach for international travel.
We believe firmly that the safety precautions of a 72 hours PCR test and screening protocols should be applied across the board, regardless of purpose of travel and country of origin.
In fact, this approach is already adopted by national government with business travellers and so it makes little sense to exclude leisure travellers in this way.
Indeed, it is unfair to restrict leisure travellers from high-risk countries as there is simply no greater risk of transmission based on the purpose of travel.
South Africa's airlines, hospitality and tourism companies have shown that travel and tourism can resume safely and, with stringent health and safety systems in place, it should not be necessary to impose additional country-based travel restrictions.
We are also concerned that the two-week review period of the leisure "no-travel list", together with the requirement that business travellers from high-risk countries email the Department of Home Affairs for permission to travel, will create a barrier to bookings from visitors in traditional key source markets during the critical summer season. It also does not allow for enough lead time on which airlines can base their decisions to fly, creating further uncertainty for a sector that has already been hard-hit.
We have worked hard to ensure that Cape Town and the Western Cape is safe for travellers and ready to welcome international visitors, because our leisure travellers from key source markets such as the United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands and France make the most of our favourable exchange rate and have a high spending potential which positively impacts our local economy.
We have held many engagements with the tourism industry on implementing health and safety guidelines, launched a workplace safety campaign across radio and digital platforms, our healthcare system has consistently proved it can adequately respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and we are confident in the measures have been put in place for adequate screening at Cape Town International Airport. For our efforts, we have been awarded the WTTC Safety Stamp in the Western Cape.
We are open and we are ready to safely welcome travellers from around the world to experience our world-class and affordable experiences in Cape Town and the Western Cape.