The advent of the forecast ‘third wave’ of COVID-19 in South Africa, combined with additional lockdown measures over Easter, will have enormous impact on an already devastated industry, says FEDHASA in a media release.
Recent reports from Statistics SA have illustrated the economic damage to hospitality and tourism inflicted by South Africa’s second wave during December and January, when government raised the lockdown to Level 3, instated beach and alcohol bans and introduced an earlier curfew.
A total of 56 companies in the sector ‘Trade, Catering and Accommodation’ were liquidated in January and February this year. Statistics SA’s ‘Accommodation and Food & Beverage’ key findings report for January 2021 showed a significant decline in income for tourist accommodation (down 72,9%) compared with January 2020. The food and beverage sector showed a decline of 36,1% in total income generated in the same period.
“However, the figure of 56 companies going into liquidation does not reflect the many more hospitality businesses that have closed down, but not formally followed the liquidation process, so the picture is likely much worse than these numbers indicate,” said Rosemary Anderson, chairperson of FEDHASA.
A major concern is that, in anticipation of Easter, government will introduce restrictions that will have a further detrimental impact on the tourism and hospitality businesses that have been relying on a financial boost over this period to survive and retain staff.
But, despite the likely increase in domestic travel over Easter, arguably there was no sector quite as cognisant of the direct relationship between adherence to protocols and the recovery of the sector than the hospitality and tourism industry, said Rosemary.
“The hospitality industry was left in tatters by the first and second waves and many businesses are now so financially compromised that they are unable to hang on any longer, especially in light of a predicted third wave and resultant lockdown measures. Some hotels that are wholly reliant on business and international tourism have been closed for a full year now,” she said.
“FEDHASA has designed a robust set of health and safety protocols for COVID-19, and our members are acutely aware of the importance of adhering to these standards in order to safeguard the public and to be able to continue trading.”
Continued trading, with strict compliance to safety measures combined with the mass vaccination of the South African public, was the only solution, said Rosemary. “Over 120 countries are not allowing South African travellers in, or their citizens to travel to South Africa. It is concerning that our vaccination programme is yet to begin in earnest, and we risk being left behind unless we soon start to see more progress in this regard.”
FEDHASA is the umbrella association for hotels, restaurants, conference centres, caterers, self-catering accommodation, home hosting establishments (B&Bs and guest houses), clubs, taverns, shebeens, suppliers and trainers, consultants and service providers to the hospitality industry.