Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ALON SKUY
Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ALON SKUY

In this edition of the Business Day Spotlight, we’re taking a look at how Covid-19 has affected SA’s tourism sector and how industry players could help the economy to recover.

Host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), a private sector industry body.

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Tshivhengwa begins by explaining that TBCSA is the umbrella organisation representing the unified voice of business in the travel and tourism sector. He says part of their main activities is lobbying the public sector on behalf of its members and monitoring macroeconomic developments that affect the sector.

With Stats SA revealing this week that Covid-19 had caused a 51% decline in SA’s GDP in the second quarter of 2020, TBCSA has called for the reopening of borders “to let tourism breathe life into the economy”.

Tshivhengwa explains that in 2019, tourism contributed 8.6% to the country’s GDP, signalling its importance as a top earner. That, combined with the fact that the sector employs about 1.5-million people, a larger number than even mining, means tourism could aid in SA’s economic recovery if restrictions on international travel are lifted.

Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI
Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI

While Covid-19 and the easing of travel restrictions have resulted in an uptick of local travel, Tshivhengwa says this is not enough to sustain the industry as a whole. He argues that as SA is entering its peak tourist and holiday season, it may lose out on a large amount of international traffic if the government does not open up SA's borders soon.

The organisation says international tourism can reopen safely, but it requires an enabling environment that includes the reopening of borders, an improved visa regime, air access and better safety for tourists.

Tshivhengwa also articulates the impact of Covid-19 on the sector, how travel and tourism contributes to the wider economy, the risks of keeping borders closed and an outlook for the sector.

For more episodes, click here.

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 Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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