Intense frustration and confusion in the tourism sector churned last month. Uncertainty related to whether or not domestic leisure travel within provinces was allowed under current Covid-19 Level 3 lockdown rules caused much upset.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) finally made it clear that leisure travel was prohibited under the Level 3 lockdown regulations. She announced this at a briefing by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Monday 13 July, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation the night before.
Then the tourism industry, with cautious optimism, met the announcement on 30 July by the Minister of Tourism, Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane , that leisure travel, including accommodation, inside the traveller’s own province, will be permitted as soon as it is gazetted. The Minister said home-sharing accommodation (Airbnb-style) was still prohibited, and that inter-province travel was still not permitted.
The extension of the curfew, commencing at 10 pm instead of 9 pm, to assist restaurants to operate at peak time in the evenings is more good news. The alcohol ban, however, is still in force for restaurants and across the board.
Essential business travel between provinces has been allowed since June.
According to the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, domestic level travel was likely to open in late September or early October. Foreign tourists may be allowed to travel to South Africa by the start of next year.
“The virus is likely to flatten in September according to health experts. At this point, borders opening for international travellers is likely to be January 2021,” Mahlalela stated.