Over the past 15 years tourism in Franschhoek has positioned itself as a leading destination for both domestic and international travellers. Home to more than 66 world-class restaurants, 80 wine estates as well as 120 luxurious accommodation establishments and 250 holiday rentals. Set in a breath taking landscape, Franschhoek has become known as one of the premier winelands destinations in South Africa.
However, after four months of lockdown, tourism in Franschhoek as well as the rest of South Africa is fighting desperately to survive. In an effort for their ‘voices to be heard’, a number of tourism and hospitality related businesses together with their employees are calling for the immediate reopening of tourism.
Starting with domestic travel and eventually international tourism. With noise being made throughout the country by this sector, one of these is a local Franschhoek guest house owner who has launched a petition;
“Open Tourism in South Africa NOW” (https://www.change.org/Open_Tourism_in_SA_NOW), and to date has gathered almost 20 000 signatures in less than a week.
This is without a doubt a cry for help from local businesses who are fighting to save livelihoods and income for an entire industry.
The lives of thousands of people who work in the tourism sector in and around Franschhoek as well as many more throughout South Africa (an estimated 1.5 million people nationwide) have been negatively affected.
Without tourism, businesses are no longer able to pay salaries, rent or suppliers. According to a recent Oxfam Study, one third of all South Africans go to bed hungry, and has rated South Africa as a new hunger hot spot. Our country is the edge of a likely humanitarian catastrophe.
All tourism related companies have understood the importance of implementing decisive steps to contain the spread of the virus, and have already done so. However, the lack of ongoing guidance by the Tourism Minister leaves most feeling thoroughly disillusioned.
Unfortunately the absence of a master plan to rescue the tourism sector, has left many tourism businesses feeling further disheartened. European countries such as Austria, Germany and even Italy have proven over the last months that it is possible to operate restaurants and hotels safely under Corona, albeit under strict regulations. Surely the same could apply to the South African tourism sector.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has estimated that 400,000 jobs will be lost if the tourism sector doesn’t open up by September. Another depressing fact is that as the ban on tourism is extended, additional hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, adding to an already ailing unemployment rate our country certainly can’t afford.