New COVID strain hits revival of S.Africa’s international tourist trade

  • South Africa renowned for wildlife, scenery, vineyards
  • Omicron-pushed vacation curbs discourage international attendees
  • About 1 bln rand missing because of to no-displays -tourism sector CEO
  • Extra soreness if travel bans persist, warns Sunshine Intercontinental

CAPE Town, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Rushdi Harper’s tour enterprise in Cape Town was just starting up to get better from a disastrous COVID-19 lockdown that had pressured him to promote his dwelling just to preserve the organization heading.

Then the Omicron variant of the coronavirus struck.

Till then, Harper’s Wow Journey & Tours, for which foreigners make up 80% of business enterprise, experienced been hunting ahead to a bumper Xmas period when travellers from a cold northern hemisphere – mainly Britain, the United States and Germany – commonly head south for the sunshine.

Register now for No cost unlimited obtain to

But Omicron’s sudden emergence last month prompted the imposition of worldwide vacation curbs on southern Africa, hotspot of Omicron, that have “offered us really a setback yet again,” Harper, the company’s handling director, told Reuters.

“Fifty % of our bookings were cancelled for December by yourself,” he said, and 40% for January, he stated at the Cape City waterfront, with a look at of its famous Table Mountain behind him. “As a compact organization like ours, which is likely about a million rand ($63,274.72)…dropped in a incredibly quick area of time.”

A succession of tough lockdown limitations imposed in South Africa in 2020 hammered a tourism sector reliant on foreigners, with organizations closing and shedding hundreds of hospitality careers, before the curbs have been eased earlier this 12 months.

Now, vacation restrictions imposed by the European Union, Britain and the United States because of Omicron, specified a viral pressure of issue by the Globe Wellness Corporation, have slash off South Africa’s three most significant overseas marketplaces.

Wow Journey & Excursions started off viewing cancellations when news of Omicron broke late in November, with very a range from Brazil, the United States and Germany, usually at the very last minute as flights had been axed.

Abundant wildlife, stunning surroundings and renowned vineyards have manufactured South Africa 1 of the world’s major extensive-haul journey destinations, setting up tourism as a pillar of the overall economy.

But coronavirus-driven lockdown and journey restrictions decimated tourist numbers. Total overseas arrivals slumped by 71% to much less than 5 million in 2020 from just above 15.8 million in 2019, according to Statistics South Africa.

Readers sit on an empty deck as numbers of global travelers decrease next recent coronavirus illness (COVID-19) journey limits, at Milnerton Beach front in Cape Town, South Africa, December 3, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Reuters Graphics


Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, main govt officer of the Tourism Organization Council of South Africa, explained to Reuters that a survey of tour operators confirmed that the cancellations so far are value about 1 billion rand. These do not include airlines, dining establishments and accommodation.

“It could quickly be 3 billion rand ($191 million) value of cancellations that we’ve witnessed for the festive year,” he said.

Massive resort house owners Tsogo Sunshine Hotels (TGOJ.J), Town Lodge Hotel Group (CLHJ.J), Sunshine Intercontinental (SUIJ.J) and Radisson Hotel Team interviewed by Reuters explained they too experienced seasoned cancellations of intercontinental bookings.

William McIntyre, Regional Director of Africa at Radisson Lodge Team, explained its lodges are having to review plans to hire much more personnel in anticipation of a occupied festive year.

“The bookings for December and January led us to consider that 2022 was likely to be the yr the sector would begin its return to normality,” McIntyre reported.

Marcel von Aulock, CEO of Tsogo Sun Accommodations, which owns and operates above 100 hotels throughout the African continent, said the group experienced suffered cancellations of corporate, sporting and cultural occasions.

“The continuation of these vacation bans will have further more devastating outcomes…(particularly) of additional career losses and company closures,” Sunshine Worldwide explained in a statement.

($1 = 15.8041 rand)

Sign-up now for Free endless access to

Editing by Tim Cocks and Mark Heinrich

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Rely on Principles.