Fri. Jan 22nd, 2021

Lockdown until 2021? Draft tourism plans show cautious ‘recovery roadmap’

Some slides from a draft presentation on the tourism industry have caused a stir this week – and SA may live with lockdown past this year.

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We know we’re in this for the ‘long haul’, but few of us would have seen our lockdown lives stretch into another calendar year. According to a presentation shared during the Tourism Sector Webinar on Monday, these restrictions may be with South Africans until the early stages of 2021.

A non-contextualised screenshot of the recovery plans has done the rounds on social media over the past 24 hours. It showed the government, in their draft blueprint to revive the tourism sector, anticipating that Levels 1 and 2 of lockdown would still be in force by the turn of the year.

Could lockdown last until 2021? Tourism presentation shows its hand

However, what this scrap of information doesn’t elaborate on is that the timelines are only ‘indicative’ – so they can facilitate discussion about other measures. The 2021 lifting of lockdown is essentially a thumb-suck figure.

Tourism activity isn’t likely to return until we hit Level 2, but that may not occur until we’re almost in summer. There could be several lost months here, which comes with the potential to starve one of South Africa’s most lucrative industries – that’s why the ministry is considering a push to open some tourist businesses in lockdown Level 3:

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The draft tourism proposals have anticipated that lockdown could go into 2021 – Photo: Department of Tourism

Best and worst case scenarios: How South Africa could recover

We are still in the early stages of this global health crisis. We know, it already feels like it has been years. But the tourism board is preparing for all eventualities. They have put together three possible recovery scenarios, ranging from the best to worst cases.

Should South Africa successfully contain the disease, there could be plans to have the borders open and welcome international travellers by October. A more cautious plan would push that window back to November, and should things prove exceptionally difficult in the months to come, any ‘meaningful recovery’ and the lifting of lockdown measures could only come ‘at some point in 2021’:

These draft policies aren’t definites, but they certainly give us a clear understanding of the enormous challenge that lies in wait for tourism – an industry which is strictly intertwined with national lockdown frameworks:

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These are the “three roads” South Africa could take in fighting the global health crisis – Photo: Department of Tourism

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