Leisure travel within a province is allowed, says tourism body

Posted on 28 June 2020

Formally accredited and licenced accommodation have been given the green light to operate again if the industry follows regulations issued in the Government Gazette published on Thursday, June 25.

This move, however, contradicts Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane’s press briefing on Friday, where she announced no leisure travel will be permitted.

Much confusion washed over the tourism industry when the Minister said no leisure travel will be allowed, as they were preparing to reopen on June 29, along with restaurants and casinos.

Clarifying the statement that licensed accommodation will indeed be allowed to reopen on Monday, Natalia Rosa, member of South Africa is Travel Ready – a PR and Communications collaboration of influential agencies in the tourism and hospitality space – said interpretation of gazetted tourism regulations has been somewhat confusing with various tourism stakeholders weighing in.

‘There is a strong view from tourism private sector that nowhere in the gazetted regulations does it state that domestic leisure overnight stays will not be allowed, which supports the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 17 June confirming a further easing of “accredited and licenced accommodation” with the exception of home sharing accommodation like AirBnB. The regulations issued on Thursday allow “formally accredited and licenced accommodation” to operate, as well as leisure activities such as golf, hiking, going to a casino or a restaurant and visiting game reserves,’ said Rosa.

Further to this, South Africa is Travel Ready (SAITR) issued a statement on Sunday [June 28], saying while the regulations themselves do not allow for inter-provincial domestic leisure travel, as indicated by Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the gazetted regulations allow travel for leisure (for anything that is allowed under level 3), such as golf, hiking, going to a casino or a restaurant, visiting game reserves.

‘The regulations also allow “formally accredited and licenced accommodation” to operate. Nowhere in the gazetted regulations does it state that domestic leisure overnight stays will not be allowed.’

SAITR said, when President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on June 17, he confirmed there would be an easing of restrictions on certain economic activities including ‘accredited and licenced accommodation’ with the exception of home sharing accommodation like AirBnB.

The Presidency confirmed at the time that ‘commercially licenced accommodation’ would be ‘allowed’ at Level 3 with ‘strict health protocols’ in place.

‘In his preamble he said “this pandemic has also been a global economic crisis of ever-increasing proportion”. The President added that some businesses have had no revenue and people have had no income for 80 days and that even with government’s various support packages, there is a limit to how long these businesses can remain closed. The opening of accommodation is in support of this statement to save jobs and livelihoods through enabling more businesses to trade,’ said SAITR.

During her address, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said, self-drive leisure travel is permitted within the province a person resides in, but no overnight stays in hotels, lodges, bed and breakfast, homestay and such types of accommodation will be permitted for leisure travellers.

SAITR argued there were no exclusions outlined for intra-provincial domestic leisure overnight stays in ‘accredited and licenced accommodation’ – in the gazetted regulations.

Further, nowhere is there a requirement for restaurants to restrict the number of persons allowed to no more than 50% of capacity or 50 guests, contrary to reports that have been circulating.

The regulations state: ‘All gatherings are prohibited except a gathering at … restaurants, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures as provided for in directions that must be issued by the responsible Cabinet member, after consultation with the Cabinet member responsible for health’.

In conclusion, the tourism body said their sector had worked tirelessly to ensure that stringent health and safety protocols were put in place to welcome and keep safe, not only business travellers, but also leisure travellers.


Image credit: Pexels

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