The R10bn earmarked by National Treasury for the purchase and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines over the next two years – as announced by Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni during his Budget Speech 2021 yesterday (February 24) – will go a long way towards stimulating travel.
“This will give travellers the confidence and peace of mind they need to feel safe when they travel and should lower travel restrictions placed on South Africa from international airlines,” said ceo of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona.
Ceo of the Tourism Business Council South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, agreed, reiterating that his organisation was pushing for frontline hospitality and tourism workers – chefs, waiters, customs officials, hotel staff, tourist guides, game rangers etc – to be prioritised when the vaccination programme was rolled out.
“Tourists need to have confidence in the safety of a destination and this will go a long way towards ensuring that,” he said.
Tshifhiwa told Travel News that there were “some indications” that the Department of Tourism budget would bounce back. “Today’s speech touched on the overall national picture and we as an industry now have to wait and see what has been allocated for the tourism industry. But I am hopeful.”
These details, he said, would be outlined in the department’s Budget Vote Speech 2021. The date for the speech has not yet been scheduled but it generally takes place two weeks after the Budget Speech.
Seamless border crossings
Sisa also said he would “wait and see” what the department’s Budget Vote 2021 entailed before commenting in detail but noted that one of the other main points of interest was the upgrading and expansion of the six border posts.
“The one-stop border posts will ensure the seamless movement of travellers, which is a positive step for regional travel.”
Other key takeouts from the speech
- The South African economy is expected to rebound by 3,3% this year, following a 7,2% contraction in 2020.
- Government has committed to a R791,2bn infrastructure investment drive to, amongst others, improve national road networks and the upgrading and expansion of South Africa’s six busiest border posts, starting with Beitbridge, which was built in 1929 and last upgraded in 1995.
- Transport operators could be hit hard by the fuel levies, which will be increased by 27 cents per litre: comprising 15 cents per litre for the general fuel levy, 11 cents per litre for the Road Accident Fund levy and 1 cent per litre for the carbon fuel levy.