[imagesource: NAC Helicopters]
At this stage, there is no point trying to guess when South Africa will once again welcome visitors from abroad.
Sure, we have dropped to alert level 2 and can now visit friends and family (up to 10 – sorry, you were 11th, definitely next time), but there were still 159 deaths recorded across the country in the 24-hour period before last night’s latest stats release.
Factor in the excess deaths, and that number is almost certainly higher.
For some of Cape Town’s best known and much-loved hotels, months and months of empty rooms means tough decisions are being made, with the V&A Waterfront’s Table Bay Hotel the latest to speak out.
Staff at the hotel could be facing retrenchment, reports TimesLIVE:
“I don’t think anybody is untouched by the pandemic or can survive without an income,” said Table Bay general manager Joanne Selby. “Our staffing structures will need to be revisited and we are in conversation about that.”
The hotel had avoided retrenchments so far by reducing salaries, in line with businesses in a wide range of sectors, she said…
“If we don’t open our borders very soon, we will lose summer and we will just carry on till the summer of 2021, which would be catastrophic,” she said, adding that she believed the sector would ultimately rebound.
Great to see a degree of positivity at the end there, and Selby is hopeful that once international travel is allowed, people who have spent months under strict lockdowns around the world will be very eager to travel.
Earlier in the week, it was also reported that the Mount Nelson Hotel would remain closed until December at least, with staff retrenchment having taken place.
The hotel had been paying employees 70% of their salaries throughout the lockdown, but that was no longer financially possible, with zero guests having stayed at the hotel since late-March.
Wine industry insiders talk of a jobs “bloodbath” over the next 18 months, and the hospitality industry in the winelands surrounding Cape Town has also taken strain.
Speaking on Thursday, Western Cape premier Alan Winde stressed that he was keen to see overseas visitors return to our shores as soon as was possible:
“I have been asked by many people about when international travel will be allowed, because this is a key contributor to our provincial economy,” he said in a statement.
“Our government will be working on submissions to national government, as we have done on a number of sectors throughout this period, to demonstrate how we can get safe international tourism going again. This is a work in progress.”
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Wednesday that South Africa could not afford to risk allowing international travel yet, but that “our wish is to say, as we come in the following either weeks or months, we should be able to see our international tourism activities coming both inbound and upbound”.
Thankfully, with alert level 2 allowing for interprovincial travel, hotels and guesthouses can at least welcome South Africans travelling from other parts of the country.
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