South Africa’s tourism industry is preparing for the country’s lockdown restrictions to last beyond the end of 2020.
Presenting in a webinar on Monday (11 May), South African Tourism chief executive office Sisa Ntshona said that the industry was still working on ‘guesstimates’, but that based on current projections, the country would only reach level 1 of its lockdown by Q1 2021.
“We have no clue as to when we will move to level 3 as a country, or level 2 or level 1. We also have no clue as to how long we will stay at level 4. It will all depend on the trajectory of the pandemic.”
He added that tourism in the country will only become partially active at level 2 of the lockdown, with the sector beginning to fully open up again at level 1.
“Based on the current trajectory we are seeing, where September is where we have peak coronavirus cases, it is likely that level 2 will kicks in around November and level 1 kicks in around January 2021,” Ntshona said.
He said that this trajectory is also based on government’s current classifications of sectors and that it may decide to open tourism in the country at an earlier date if the sector takes steps to reduce risks.
“The conversation that is happening is ‘what can be done’ to de-risk the sector. In the current form it is level 1, however, it can be re-rated to a lesser risk and can move up the scale.”
This aligns with commentary by Intellidex analyst, Peter Attard Montalto, who said that South Africans should prepare for a roller-coaster of level changes for at least the next 12 months.
“Overall there is still no clear strategy from government on how and when – based on either medical or economic drivers – the country or metros should be moved between levels,” he said.
Because of the pressures from businesses, which are eager to get back to economic activity, and the reality of the pandemic – being that the peak of infections is yet to hit, and a second peak is expected to follow as more relaxed restrictions take root – Attard Montalto expects a baseline scenario of many ups and downs in the coming months.
“The national lockdown may be reduced to level 3 for a month or so, and then back to level 4, and then into level 5 for the peak through July and August,” he said.
“This, before a return slowly back to level 2 by the end of the year, and level 1 in the first quarter of next year – before a ramp back up on a second wave in the middle of 2021.”