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Mass retrenchments looming as interprovincial leisure travel remains closed

Johannesburg, 1 July 2020

It is over 100 days since the lockdown started and over R68 billion worth of travel and tourism spend has been lost.

The end of June marked the last month that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will pay workers their COVID-19 TERS relief benefits. Insurance companies refuse to pay businesses for losses related to the COVID-19 lockdown, even though they are insured against business interruption.

Domestic interprovincial leisure travel could essentially save thousands of travel, tourism and hospitality jobs, however, the government has stood by its decision, not to reopen the industry.

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is making an urgent call to government to hear the plea of the sector and reopen domestic interprovincial leisure travel immediately, thereby significantly reducing the number of retrenchments across the sector.

The industry loses R748 million every single day during lockdown. The TBCSA, estimates a loss o f 600 000 jobs if the sector remains closed with knock-on effects in other sectors. Roughly 49 000 SMMEs have already been negatively affected and many have already permanently closed shop.“If government does not open interprovincial leisure travel this week, mass retrenchments will start within the sector. This will be further propelled by the UIF TERS benefit coming to an end and insurance companies refusing to pay legitimate claims. Interprovincial travel will bring hope to the industry and mitigate mass retrenchments.” says Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of TBCSA.

“ We developed protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across the entire tourism value c hain and these have been accepted. The next steps that are taken by the tourism industry should r eflect this and our readiness to reopen the industry. Interprovincial leisure travellers, similar to b usiness travellers, have a significant contribution to make to the country’s tourism, and we s hould therefore be allowed to receive them”, adds Tshivhengwa.

StatSA’s domestic tourism survey indicates that 60% of all domestic overnight trips are across provincial borders, and this rises to 70% for trips from Gauteng. Many accommodation businesses in surrounding provinces rely entirely on Gauteng outbound domestic travel for their business.

The TBCSA believes that the tourism attractions protocols are comprehensive and sufficient to mitigate the spread of the virus and should serve as a guide to ensure that safety and hygiene practices are put in place and practiced in all tourism related businesses and functions.

“Provincial boundaries are an artificial construct when it comes to restricting travel; some people can travel 10 kilometres and cross a provincial boundary, while others can travel 300 or more kilometres away from home in one direction and not cross a provincial boundary. Interprovincial travel is already allowed for work and business travel, study, funerals, and care of vulnerable people purposes. If such categories of people can travel safely by whatever mode across provincial boundaries, so too can leisure tourists”, concludes Tshivhengwa



The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is the umbrella organisation representing the unified voice of business in the travel and tourism sector.

The TBCSA was established in February 1996 by leading tourism businesses and associations to form a unified platform to engage with the South African government around the development of the sector.

It is a not-for-profit, member-centric organisation mandated with the task of:

  • Lobbying the public sector on behalf of its members;
  • Facilitating key industry programmes aimed at driving growth and development in the sector;
  • Monitoring and influencing macro-economic developments which impact the sector;
  • Serving to unite and influence the diverse travel and tourism sector to contribute to a competitive, responsible, and inclusive tourism economy. The work of the organisation and its strategy is guided by the following priority areas:
    • Providing organised business in the sector a route to Government;
    • Focusing on legislative issues and policies impacting on the travel and tourism sector.
    • Managing and growing
    • Member engagement and
    • Influencing the marketing of destination South
    • Research – commissioning, collating, and

Issued by Vuma Reputation Management on behalf of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.
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