While the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues across the world, the tourism sector will still have to operate alongside the virus with the threat of a third wave on the horizon , says Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
Kubayi-Ngubane said scientists are expressing concerns that a third wave of COVID-19 infections may hit South Africa earlier than expected.
“If indeed the third wave hit us, the level of restrictions will have to be commensurate to the risk level. The conclusion to be drawn from all of this is that the tourism sector will, for some time, have to operate alongside the virus.
“It also means that the sector is possibly facing numerous stop/start cycles as restrictions are increased or eased in line with the risk adjusted approach that responds to the evolution of the virus,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The Minister was speaking during a webinar organised by Government Communications (GCIS).
Kubayi-Ngubane said the stop/start cycles will continue to affect traveler confidence and place jobs and the survival of tourism firms at risk.
“They will further make the recovery highly uncertain. This means that flexibility as well as the adaptability of firms across the value chain will be critical in responding to the stop/start cycles.”
The recently published Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2020, showed that South Africa’s unemployment rate increased to 32.5%.
Kubayi-Ngubane said by July last year, 30% restaurants could no longer reopen and the sector was facing a risk of losing close to 600 000 jobs.