Cape Town, South Africa / Image via Adobe Stock

Three-phase recovery plan: Here’s how tourism will return to South Africa

In revealing their adjusted budget for the remainder of the financial year, the tourism department warned recovery could take up to two years.


Cape Town, South Africa / Image via Adobe Stock

The Department of Tourism have said that they will embark on a three-stage plan to save the industry after its catastrophic collapse at the hands of COVID-19, saying that ultimately the recovery may take up to two years. 

The department released a revised budget for the 2020 financial year on Thursday 9 July in which they outlined the slashing of R1 billion from it’s initial R2.5 billion kitty. In the report, the Department said that it would follow a multi-phase plan to mitigate losses to the drastically affected sector. 

Tourism portfolio takes R1 billion budget cut 

The majority of cuts within the Departments fund comes in within the tourism research, policy, and international relations allocation of the portfolio, which includes promotional and marketing based initiatives that have been deemed effectively redundant under the current circumstances.

Graphic: Department of Tourism

The department said that the tourism sector was the worst affected by the crippling financial constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown regulations, especially those prohibiting movement. 

“All sectors have been impacted but none more so than the travel and tourism sector. With borders being closed, planes and mass transport being grounded, and large gatherings being prohibited, there is almost zero activity in the sector,” they said. 

“The review of the plans has taken into account the impact of the national lockdown, associated restrictions and high levels of uncertainty on the practical execution of some of our projects planned for 2020/21.”

They said that the ultimate recovery of the industry may take as long as two years. 

“Early indications are that recovery of the sector may take between 12 and 24 months,” they said. 

Multi-phase recovery plan in place

The department said that the sector has previously demonstrated “strong resilience” and “will certainly be transformed and rise again”, with a multi-phase plan presented that will aim to gradually stimulate activity in the sector; first from a domestic and ultimately from an international perspective. 

The multi-phase strategy looks like this: 

1) Domestic:

  • Phase one: “Hyperlocal” focus on attractions such as day-visits to nearby open spaces. 
  • During this stage, focus shifts away form revenue generating strategy and focuses solely on “providing a sense of safety for being outdoors”.
  • Phase two: The introduction of revenue generation for the sector using offerings such as overnight stays and, importantly, air travel. 

In order to embark on the regional leg of the industry’s recovery, the tourism department say that regional country border bans must have been lifted, and a globally accepted set of health protocols will need to have been adopted. 

2) Regional:

  • Phase one: This will essentially consist of the travel to interprovincial and regions outside of South Africa’s borders by car. 
  • Phase two: This will include the same aims as phase one, but will be facilitated by regional air travel. 

For the transition into the international phase of the plan to take shape, the tourism sector will require that long-haul country air bans are lifted, with the resumption of international travel having taken place. 

3) International

  • Phase one: International carriers resume flights as the sector recovers. 
  • Phase two: The rest of the world experiences a full recovery. 
Graphic: Department of Tourism

“As the country reprioritises resources to fight the pandemic, it was anticipated that the portfolio budget would be impacted, an the extent of which would only be confirmed during the adjusted budget,” the department added.