The impact of Coronavirus on South Africa's tourism


According to The World Travel and Tourism Council, the global COVID-19 pandemic will affect over 50 million jobs in the tourism and travel industries alone.

They argue a full recovery will take a decade at the very least. Before the outbreak, tourism was responsible for 10 percent of global GDP, an amount in the trillions of dollars.

Impact on South Africa

Every passing day the impact of the lockdown affects the travel and tourism sector more. In South Africa, tourism exceeds 2 percent of real gross domestic product. The sector employs over 1.5 million people and inserts R425.8 billion into the economy.

As the largest tourism economy in the African continent, it is the most exposed to the adverse economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 23, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 3-week countrywide lockdown as confirmed cases exceeded 500. A lockdown that has been extended for a further two weeks. Currently, the number stands at 2,605 confirmed cases and 48 fatalities. Many operators in the tourism sector are skeptical of whether the industry will ever rebound.

Ph: Benny Marty /

Engage business networks

The global tourism industry is huge and no single business or entity can claim to have a monopoly over the market. Now is the best time for inflection and reflection. Go back to those emails you never responded to, calls you never replied, ideas you never implemented and strategies you hardly listened to. Listen to fellow industry leaders, employers, employees, associates, and contractors.

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Engage with fellow industry colleagues in national associations such as SATSA, NAA-SA, FEDHASA, and SAVRALA. These organizations provide resources on how to remain afloat throughout the shutdown. SATSA has a regularly-updated presence on its website that provides members with information that is current and credible.

Be creative

Just because your business has closed shop and you are unable to do what you love best outdoors doesn’t mean all is lost. As an SMME, revive your entrepreneurial spirit by positioning your company in an innovative space. For instance, you can try out the new khaki themed seat covers you once proposed but never got the time to implement.

Alternatively, you can launch a blog section for your website or business where you captivate visitors on what the country has to offer. Feel free to share those years of vital experience and expertise in the world. The outreach will help raise the profile of your business.

Sign up for government assistance

The South African Department of Tourism announced R200 million lifeline fund targeted at the tourism industry. The fund is targeted at Small and Medium-sized enterprises in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Travel restrictions across the world have left most of these small businesses on the brink of collapse. To access the fund, the criteria are simple and available on the National Department of Tourism website. President Cyril Ramaphosa also announced measures of tax relief to tax compliant businesses with revenues below R50 million.

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The measures are targeted at 75,000 small and medium-sized businesses, a number you can fall into.

Maintain daily routines

Working from home can be fulfilling and challenging at the same time. Do your best to minimize distractions, while maintaining your regular work routines.

Dress as if it were a normal working day even if it’s only to impress your dog. The more your day feels structured, the better your output and productivity.