By Charndré Emma Kippie
Since the start of 2020, tourism and travel across Africa has taken a huge knock, due to travel restrictions and the implementation of lockdown. South Africa has witnessed a drop in tourist visits of 71% – from just over 15.8 million in 2019 to less than 5 million in 2020 (reported by Statistics South Africa).
With fears of social gatherings and contracting the Covid-19 virus, many South Africans have been hesitant to do much travelling, both locally and internationally. As pandemic fatigue sets in, we all realise that a break is long overdue, however. Thus, responsible tourism is top of the agenda as we now move into the Third Wave.
The Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP)
The tourism sector makes an essential contribution to the South African economy. In terms of its significant value chain and incredible scope for labour absorption. Tourism is South Africa’s tool for economic development, playing a significant role in responding to the country’s socio-economic challenges.
In light of this, the government has developed the The Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP), which aims to target, coordinate action to reduce the effects of the pandemic, and set the Tourism sector on a path to recovery and long-term sustainability.
“This [Covid-19] crisis is an opportunity to rethink the tourism sector and its contribution to the people and planet; an opportunity to build back better towards a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism sector that ensures the benefits of tourism are enjoyed widely and fairly”, commented the Secretary-General of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Mr Zurab Pololikashvili.
The Recovery Plan, made available earlier this year, is based on the following themes:
- The protection and rejuvenation of supply
- Reactivating the demand for tourism
- Strengthening and enabling long term sustainability
These anchoring themes involve the implementation of the following seven strategic interventions geared towards supporting the revival of the sector:
- Implement norms and standards for safe operation across the tourism value chain to enable
- safe travel and rebuild traveller confidence.
- Stimulate domestic demand through targeted initiatives and campaigns.
- Strengthening the supply-side through resource mobilisation and investment facilitation.
- Support for the protection of core tourism infrastructure and assets.
- Execute a global marketing programme to reignite international demand.
- Tourism regional integration.
- Review the tourism policy to provide enhanced support for sector growth and development.
Responsible tourism in action
Businesses and organisations need to work together to uplift the Tourism sector to boost the economy. However, the onus also falls on local citizens and international tourists to abide by safety and regulatory practices to ensure that the Covid-19 infection rates do not spike – especially since revenue in the sector has mainly come from increased domestic travel this past year.
While this means that proper hygiene, sanitation, mask-wearing and social distancing remains vital to limiting the spread of the virus, there are other critical factors to consider and steps to take to ensure safe domestic travel going forward. These include:
Being considerate of fellow citizen’s quality of life: Do not endanger the lives of other travellers. If you are sick, or have come into contact with someone who has contracted Covid-19, isolation is required.
Managing ‘over-tourism’: We must optimise our intake of tourists to ensure the right balance is ensured between the number of visitors allowed at any location and the potential collateral impact these visitors will have on the destination’s physical, social or cultural environment.
Embracing the concept of Soft Tourism: Adopt consciousness surrounding environmental sustainability and social compatibility. Enjoy simple activities in nature that involve minimal physical activity and human contact.
Travelling in small numbers: With the onset of the Third Wave, we all have the responsibility of limiting human contact. If you wish to travel within the country, make sure you’re in a small group, everyone has been tested for possible infection, and safety precautions are adhered to.
It is advisable to use this time for solo mini ‘staycations’ to decompress and combat pandemic fatigue. Here is a list of some of the most ideal local spots to safely visit in SA:
- Boschendal Cottages & Villas – Franschhoek, Cape Town
- Cabine Du Cap – Klein Karoo
- Mongena Game Lodge – Hammanskraal, Northern Gauteng
- Belaire Suites Hotel – North Beach, Durban
- Heartwood Homestead – East London, Eastern Cape
*Check out the latest edition of the Public Sector Leaders publication here.
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