Scrap Covid-19 travel 'red list', urges Western Cape

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Victoria Waterfront, Cape Town South Africa.
Victoria Waterfront, Cape Town South Africa.
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  • The Western Cape government wants the Covid-19 travel "red list" to be scrapped to save the province's tourism and hospitality industries. 
  • The "red list" is a list of countries SA considers at higher risk for the coronavirus.
  • The province's Finance MEC David Maynier says the "red list" is killing international tourism.

The Western Cape government wants the Covid-19 travel "red list" scrapped because it is killing international tourism. 

"We are fighting hard to have this list scrapped," said Finance MEC David Maynier during a hybrid sitting of the Western Cape legislature. 

The "red list" was updated on Monday and revised from 60 countries to 22. 

It contains the list of countries South Africa considers at a higher risk for the coronavirus. 

Germany and Canada were added to the list, which also includes India, the UK and the US. 

Countries from the rest of Africa are automatically excluded, and also excluded are business travellers, diplomats, sports people and others not travelling for leisure.

Maynier said the province had been cautiously emerging from a catastrophic drought when it was "shattered" by the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.

In the Western Cape, 151 744 jobs are expected to be lost in 2020.

Of the 174 982 people employed in the tourism sector in 2019, there are expected to be 75 477 direct job losses in the sector. 

Although it had been praised for its handling of the pandemic as the first surge hit the province, the lockdown had caused significant economic hardship, leaving many people poor and hungry.

The wine industry alone lost an estimated R300 million per week under Alert Level 5 restrictions, with 350 wine producers going out of business and highly-frequented tourist spots closed.

The tourism and hospitality industries were particularly badly hit.

He said the red list contains the Western Cape's key markets, and combined with alcohol sale restrictions, keeping it in place will make it difficult to restart the economy after the pandemic.

In 2019, Cape Town International Airport recorded over one million international arrivals and over four million domestic arrivals.

READ MORE  | SA’s business travel rules: Your test is good for 14 days, and you can beg at the border

International arrivals through Cape Town International Airport decreased by 10.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, while no international arrivals were seen throughout the second quarter of 2020 due to border closures and travel restrictions, according to the Provincial Economic Review and Outlook report he tabled after his address.

"The tourism sector is unable to restart because the red list kills international tourism," said Maynier.

Maynier detailed a campaign to encourage local tourism and to get South Africans to explore local sights.

He hopes that people who only spend one night at a destination for a stopover or short getaway will consider extending their stay to help the travel and hospitality industry.

Maynier noted that the Western Cape received 19.6 percent of all tourist arrivals and 22.9 percent of tourist spend in South Africa in 2019. 

There were two million tourists in the province in 2019.

In his report, he noted that, according to Wesgro, Germany (28.5%), the UK (21.3%) and Netherlands (7.0%) ranked as the top three international tourism source markets across the regions of the Western Cape.

Other countries among the top 10 source markets included France, the US, Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

Domestic tourists hailed mostly from the Western Cape (56.4%), followed by Gauteng (11.5%), Eastern Cape (5.5%), KwaZulu-Natal (3.0%) and Northern Cape (2.4%), according to the report.

He said the economy in the Western Cape is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.0% between 2020 and 2024, while the rest of South Africa is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 0.7% between 2020 and 2024.

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