Photo by Andrew Neel
To say Covid-19 has turned our lives upside down is an understatement. Job losses, loss in revenue and permanent business closures are just some of the devastating effects that resulted because of the virus. While certain companies have managed to adapt and devise coping strategies to work through the pandemic, others haven’t been able to.
The tourism industry is amongst the hardest hit sectors. Previously contributing billions in revenue to the South African economy as well as benefiting many other countries, the numbers have since dropped—drastically. It’s really not surprising given the lockdown regulations and resultant closure of borders.
Today we’ll discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism industry as well as future predictions.
Impact of Lockdown on Hospitality Sector
With the imposition of the nationwide lockdown by the South African government, occupancy has gone down to 0% for most hotels. This is because only companies offering essential services were allowed to trade under the initial lockdown period. Unfortunately, hotels weren’t deemed part of the essential services.
However, there are a few hotels that remained open. These had to accommodate guests that couldn’t travel back home as a result of the lockdown as well as those whose medical aid arranged for them to self-isolate in hotels.
While certain hotels could afford to pay their staff during the lockdown, unfortunately many hotel workers went without wages. Some workers had to endure pay cuts while others were laid off completely. Smaller hotels and B&Bs were forced to shut down operations and don’t see themselves capable of opening even when they can now resume operations.
Predictions After End of Lockdown
As mentioned, other hotels felt the huge brunt of the lockdown and might not recover when it’s deemed safe to resume operations. Even for hotels that are set to open, it’ll take time before they can start operating at full capacity because most people are still treading with caution. It’s expected that the majority of people may be hesitant to take business trips initially, let alone travel for leisure. This is especially true regarding foreigners coming from abroad.
The scenario is however likely to play out differently for locals. People may want to travel to resorts in other provinces to make up for the time they were cooped up in their homes.
Measures in Place
In order to resume operations, hotels will need to adhere to strict regulations and be well versed in Covid-19 safety information in South Africa. Like the rest of the country, the hospitality sector will have to adhere to the new normal by elevating their cleanliness standards. Continued screening and sanitising of guests as well as disinfecting surfaces are just some of the procedures that have to be undertaken.
Every sector of the economy has been gravely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. But the tourism and hospitality sector has felt the bulk of the effects. The government has contributed 200 million rand towards the Department of Tourism in a bid to ease the financial burden in the industry. We can only hope the situation gets better in future.