Signs for early easing of entry ban as South Africa readies for more economic activities

While the President's announcement that accommodation establishments, restaurants and personal care services will soon be open for business was a major boost for the struggling South African economy amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, experts have stressed the importance of early return of inbound travel.

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One such is Chris Godenir, general manager for The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel, who along with his team are gearing up to welcome back leisure travel guests. “As an industry, we still need to continue spreading the word that South Africa is travel ready and continue our efforts to lobby for an early return of inbound travel,” Godenir said.

Despite reports that the travel industry would only re-open in 2021, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has proposed an earlier phased reopening of the sector, which is expected to see international tourism returning to South Africa as soon as September 2020 or earlier.

According to recent findings by TBCSA, an estimated 40,000 plus job losses have already been reported within the tourism sector.

“It is vital to preserve what we have left and continue our efforts to encourage South Africans to support local businesses and tourism resources,” Godenir said.

Although the wound inflicted by coronavirus on both the health system and economy hasn’t stopped bleeding since the ceasing of many business operations in March, countries and states around the world are slowing starting to open up industries, and South Africa is no exception.

In revealing plans to slowly allow more businesses activities under the so called ‘Alert Level 3 Lockdown‘, Ramaphosa said the government has taken the decision to do so “with due care and consideration”.

He added: “Altogether, these industries employed over 500,000 people before the lockdown. We have had to think about these people and those who depend on them for their livelihoods.”

While announcements will be made in due course to indicate the date from which these activities will be permitted, he particularly touched on why it was necessary to prioritise personal care services, “because this is an industry that predominantly employs women”.

The last three months, he acknowledged, have been particularly difficult for the millions of women who work as hairdressers, in spas, as therapists and technicians. 

Opening soon: Personal Care services such as beauty salons, spas and gyms are

Many of these businesses are owned by women and serve as a basic source of income in the informal sector. 

“Giving women the necessary support to become financially independent is the greatest of priorities, especially now,” he said reffering to recent worrying increase of femicide cases in South Africa. 

Adapting to the new normal 

“We have had to adapt as much as possible, but it inspired the Peninsula team to think outside of the box, developing new and innovative value-adds for returning guests”

Peninsula All-Suite Hotel

As it’s the case with many accommodation and conference establishments, the Peninsula All-Suite Hotel has already been welcoming in business travellers from the beginning of June.

Although date for the actual reopening is yet to be confirmed, Godenir said they are 100% travel ready and confident hey have all the necessary hygiene and social distancing regulations already in place, as outlined by the government.

The management, he added, is currently converting some of the ocean-view suites within the establishments into dedicated workspaces for remote teams looking for a change of scenery. These are to be offered at a daily rate of R600 between 8am and 5pm.

“The way companies do business has changed – and we wanted to create a private, self-contained space for corporates to meet and strategise during the day,” explained Godenir. “We have had to adapt as much as possible, but it inspired the Peninsula team to think outside of the box, developing new and innovative value-adds for returning guests.” 

As for digital nomads suffering from cabin fever while working at home, hotel’s team is also creating hot-desks in the downstairs lounge at R60 per person for 1.5 hours which will includes fast, unlimited Wi-Fi, and a cup of local Bootlegger coffee to kick-start your day.