’Western Cape tourism recovery dealt a blow by UK red list,’ says MEC David Maynier
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CAPE TOWN - The UK’s decision to keep South Africa on its red list for travel is a blow for tourism recovery in the Western Cape.
MEC for finance and economic opportunities, David Maynier, said the UK is a key source market for tourism, trade and investment and the continued restriction on travel via the red list has a negative impact on the economic recovery of the province.
Maynier said there are several inconsistencies in the methodology used to determine which countries ended up on the red list produced by the UK.
“ South Africa’s proportion of fully vaccinated population is eight times higher than that of Kenya, and three times higher than that of Egypt, and yet South Africa remains on the ‘red list’, while both Egypt and Kenya will be moved off the ‘red list’ from September 22.
“And new positive cases relative to population size recorded in Turkey over the last seven days were approximately 4.7 times more than those recorded in South Africa, and in the case of the Maldives, there were 2.25 times more new cases recorded over the last seven days in comparison to South Africa. Yet South Africa remains on the ‘red list’, while both Turkey and Maldives will be moved off the ‘red list’ from September 22,” Maynier said.
He said the fact that the country remains on the red list unnecessarily impedes economic recovery, especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
He said the UK is the single largest source market for tourists into South Africa with some 440 00 visitors travelling to the country in 2019.
The UK is the Western Cape’s biggest source market and accounts for almost 15% of foreign tourists visiting the province.
Maynier said 28% of those travelling to the Western Cape from the UK do so to visit family and friends.
Last year, only 132 000 visitors arrived in South Africa from the UK due to the pandemic.
“The tourism sector generated R15.5 billion in gross value add and supported 174 982 jobs in 2019 in the Western Cape. But the sector has been hard hit and, while the Western Cape maintains the lowest unemployment rate in South Africa, the tourism sector is estimated to have lost 75 477 jobs in 2020,” Maynier said.
He said easing travel restrictions for those travelling between the two countries, ahead of the summer season, will provide much-needed relief in the hospitality and tourism sectors in the province.
The UK is the Western Cape’s second largest export market which in 2020 was valued at R12.3bn, while imports from the UK into the province amounted to R3.9bn.
Maynier said keeping South Africa on the red list for an extended period will likely result in a negative impact on trade and investment, particularly in relation to expanding existing investment and stimulating the entry of new UK investors into the country.
“I’d like to extend our support to all those, such as the Southern African Tourism Services Association, who have mounted a comprehensive campaign for South Africa’s removal from the UK’s ‘red list’, and we will continue to add our voice to the growing call for the UK government to urgently remove South Africa from the ‘red list’, as this will go a long way to supporting our economy recovery in the Western Cape,” he added.