I read DA tourism spokesperson Manny de Freitas’s letter with disappointment and despair (“Tourism department doesn’t understand sector”, July 27).

The tourism sector globally is going through its worst existential challenge due to Covid-19, and SA has not been spared. Businesses are failing, jobs are being lost and frustration is at breaking point. As it will take many businesses a long time to return to sustainability, restoring lost jobs will be painstakingly slow.

The local sector has done much, as positively as it can and without malice, to engage our country’s leadership in efforts to find workable solutions to the crisis. Throughout these engagements it has been kept in mind that the crisis is not of anyone’s making. Yes, some decisions by the country’s leadership have been difficult to understand, but it’s all part of a process of grappling with an extremely difficult situation.

There has been talk of action by industry not because anyone has money to waste on litigation, or because of ill-feeling towards anyone, but because the situation is desperate.

But let’s be clear: we will find solutions only by seeing and treating one another as partners, not as rivals. Now is not the time for political bickering or mudslinging. It is time for clear-eyed leadership from all. We can also not afford to approach the task at hand, pressing as it is, with strategic myopia. We need to confront the crisis with the urgency it demands.

To stem the economic fallout we need workable solutions now. But without joining hands the breakthrough we all seek will elude us for a long time.

We have no better opportunity than now to address the future sustainability of this sector, including regarding broadening participation. That’s not a conversation we can defer any longer. Let’s rise to that challenge too.

Septi Bukula
Seeza Tourism SME Network

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