With the news that the South African government is relaxing travel restrictions after months of tough COVID19-related restraints, the tourism industry has expressed its pleasure with the decision. President Cyril Ramaphosa said that South Africa would move to level 2 this week, effectively lifting interprovincial travel restrictions.
“Guided by the advice of our health experts and after consultation with provincial and local government, Cabinet has decided to place the entire country on alert #level2, with effect from midnight on Monday, the 17th of August 2020,” said the President his address to the nation.
In message that pertains particularly to the casino and hospitality industries, the President said: “Therefore, the following changes will take effect under level 2: All restrictions on interprovincial travel will be lifted. Accommodation, hospitality venues and tours will be permitted according to approved protocols to ensure social distancing” “Restaurants, bars and taverns will be permitted to operate according to approved protocols as to times of operation and numbers of people.”
In light of the new level 2 status, Sun International will finally be able to reopen Sun City. The casino group’s flagship resort has been badly affected by a ban on interprovincial travel, since most of its visitors came from outside the province. So much so, that Sun International didn’t find it viable to reopen the resort until now – even though it was allowed to by law. The Group COO for Hospitality at Sun International, Graham Wood said: “To say we are delighted by this news would be an understatement.” Wood said that with interprovincial travel restrictions lifted, Sun International’s tourist hotels and resorts that have remained shut would finally be able to reopen. He said that Sun International would advise the public of Sun City’s opening date in due course.
Wood stressed that Sun International’s current health and safety protocols would remain firmly in place. He pointed out that all the group’s properties now bear the World Travel and Tourism Council’s safe stamp of approval. This stamp verifies that all health and safety protocols linked to COVID19 meet international benchmarks.
Sun International wasn’t the only company operating in the tourism industry to express its satisfaction that restrictions have been eased. The CEO of South African National Parks, Fundisile Mketeni was particularly pleased with the interprovincial travel decision as visitors would finally be able to travel to the country’s parks. He said that new government regulations would most likely result in restrictions to overnight accommodation occupancies. The parks themselves plan to introduce new visitor management procedures. “The public is encouraged to pre-book; walk-in bookings at parks will not be permitted,” said Mketeni. “While we understand the frustration that this will cause to those who are impatient to spend time in nature, it is important for all to appreciate the intent behind this decision,” he added.
Despite moving to level 2, cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise in South Africa. More than half a million cases have been confirmed by the government, and over 8,100 deaths. South Africa is the hardest hit country in Africa. It has the fifth highest number of cases in the world (behind the US, Brazil, Russia and India).