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Durban and Cape Town, important bellwethers for the country’s tourism economy, put on a brave face after the Omicron variant arrived just before the holiday season. But with the abrupt cancellation of bookings from the EU, the UK and the US, domestic tourism appears to have taken up the slack, according to interviews and informal assessments of the peak holidays.Marina Zietsman, a guide and manager at Free Walking Tours in Cape Town, says bookings had "really picked up until the knee-jerk scare" after Omicron emerged in November, when SA was put on travel red lists by the UK, the EU and the US, which supply the bulk of foreign visitors.Before the pandemic, Cape Town’s tourism sector contributed about 3.5% of its economy and directly employed 45,000 people, while sustaining 150,000 jobs. In December last year the city pushed a pocket-friendly domestic tourism campaign that led to a 63% recovery against 2019 figures, according to mayoral committee member for economic growth James Vos....

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