The reopening of the tourism sector is being discussed at various governmental levels and it is proving to be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, a region such as ours which is largely dependent on tourism needs to see visitors returning to our shores. Local tourism businesses are suffering greatly. Even though Level 3 regulations allow for delivery and takeaway meals from restaurants, many restauranteurs say they are doing less than 10% of their normal turnover.
In addition, it is a misnomer that tour operators are allowed to trade. Without any tourists, how are they supposed to keep their doors open?
On the other hand, the Western Cape is the epicentre of the pandemic in South Africa and the sharp rise in numbers is not expected to decrease soon. The question has been asked if we want to allow visitors from especially the Cape Metropole, which has the highest concentration of Coronavirus cases in the country, into our area?
It seems that regardless of what the regulations say, residents of the Western Cape are already travelling to other destinations, including the Cape Whale Coast. This trend contrasts with other parts of the world where hard lockdown regulations were kept in place until after the peak in infections.
The lockdown in South Africa was put in place to flatten the curve and delay the peak. It is now estimated that the Western Cape will reach its peak in the coming weeks, followed by the rest of the country up until August and September.
Does travel before the peak is reached increase the risk of more infections? Yes, it most definitely does. Can our tourism industry survive returning to Level 4 or 5 lockdown? No, it cannot. Can our tourism sector survive with the current Level 3 lockdown restrictions? Again, no, it cannot.
A lot of work has been put in place to ensure that travel can be allowed under strict health and safety protocols. Will this be enough to entice tourists? Yes, it seems it will. And it will assist in bringing some economic relief to our towns.