South Africa moved to Level 1 lockdown on 21 September, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an easing of restrictions as Covid-19 cases continue to decline.
Among these it was announced that, from 1 October, travel in and out of South Africa will be allowed again under strict conditions.
According to StatsSA, nearly 16.5-million tourists visit South Africa each year. In 2019 alone, this employed 1.5-million people and contributed R425.8-billion to the economy.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has said that the sector is ready to welcome an increase in activity for both domestic and international tourists.
The restrictions, which have yet to be published, will limit travel to and from certain countries that have high infection rates. This will be updated based on the latest scientific data.
However, South Africa’s move to Level 1 has coincided with the northern hemisphere’s approaching winter – and many countries are seeing a rise in cases, resulting in increased lockdown measures.
According to News24, the 10 leading countries for overseas tourists in South Africa are:
- United Kingdom
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, just yesterday announced increased lockdown measures, including a return to work-from-home; a 10pm closure time for pubs, bars and restaurants; stricter rules around face coverings in public; and strict fines for lack of compliance.
In mainland Europe, France has reported 10 569 new cases; Italy saw close to 1 000 new infections; and Germany reported 1 345 new cases Sunday, and a further 922 cases Monday. As a result, European countries are likely to impose more restrictions on public life in the coming days.
While Americans are, at this point, allowed to travel, the lack of stringent measures at a federal level has resulted in many countries putting tourists from the States on a blacklist.
Australia’s borders remain closed, although it is slowly opening domestic borders. India is also opening domestic borders, but international borders are not yet open.
China opened its international borders to select countries, which at the moment are Canada, Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Austria and Sweden. This list is expected to change according to the situations in each country.
It has also been noted that domestic tourism is on the rise across the globe as people explore their own backyards, rather than risking quarantine or last minute cancellations. A loss of income due to lockdown and an increase in furlough, retrenchments and unemployment has decreased disposable income – all of which will have a negative impact on tourism.
The public has 60 days from Monday April 15 to submit comments on the Tourism Amendment Bill, which will regulate short-term accommodation in the so-called shared economy, Blessing Manale, chief director of communications at the Department of Tourism, told Fin24 on Monday.
Airbnb is an example of such a business model.
“We are not trying to ‘kill’ Airbnb-type accommodation, but there is currently no legislation stipulating who is responsible for regulating that industry,” he said.
The bill was published in the Government Gazette on Friday April 12 and re-published on Monday April 15, due to a printing glitch. The bill will enable the minister of tourism to determine certain so-called “thresholds” for short-term home rentals.
According to Manale, these could include a limit on the number of nights guests could stay at an establishment. It could perhaps even limit the number of guests due to potentially larger water consumption in an area. Thresholds could also look at pricing, zoning, how much an establishment can earn and maybe even regulating matters like security.
“It is ultimately to ensure we bring all the various types of short-term accommodation into one pot. We want to make sure that whatever shared economy business model comes here, we are ready for it,” said Manale.
The Department of Tourism plans to discuss with provincial and local governments on issues like oversight on zoning and whether Airbnbs-type establishments should only be allowed to operate in certain areas.
“We are proposing to first empower the minister of tourism and then he can decide what should be the biggest priorities, for instance for thresholds,” said Manale.
He emphasised that it is not about whether operations like Airbnb and should exist or not.
“They are, however, mostly self-regulating. We now just want to hear both sides – from those having such accommodation establishments and those who feel it is hampering the more ‘formal’ tourism industry,” he said.
“The bill is now under public consultation. We just want to gather input from the industry, local government and even tax experts on how to deal with income, for instance, that might be falling through the cracks.”
The department is in the process of holding seminars and workshops to inform people about the bill and its proposed changes for the shared-economy.
“There is still a long way to go,” said Manale.
“From government’s side, we realise that it will be useless to make regulations if we cannot ‘police’ it,” he said.
“Those running the likes of Airbnbs need not worry that government wants to ‘kill’ the shared economy in the tourism industry. It is a business model that works. The intention of the bill is rather to create the best outcome for the local tourism industry.”
More information on how to submit comments on the bill can be obtained from Mmaditonki Setwaba on firstname.lastname@example.org or 012 444 6312.
By Nic Andersen for The South African
Sick of all the paperwork every time you travel to South Africa? Well, e-visas could soon make things a whole lot easier.
The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that phase one of a rollout of electronic visas (e-visas) will begin on 31 March 2019.
While some of the final details are still up in the air, a parliamentary reply from Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba has revealed more about what travellers can expect.
What exactly is an e-visa?
While we’re sure some foreign nationals had hope regarding being free of paperwork, Gigaba says some will still be involved.
“E-visa introduces online capture of visa and permit applications and capturing of applicant’s biometrics in South Africa and abroad. An application will be captured and submitted online together with the required supporting documents that will be scanned and attached to the application. The applicant will then present himself/herself before a DHA Official for biometric enrollment and verification of the supporting documents.”
Following the verification of those documents, all the relevant forms are electronically routed to the Home Affairs head office in Pretoria for adjudication. For an approved visa/permit, a secure QR-Code is generated for print on the notification notice/letter sent to the applicant. This QR-Code contains the approved visa/permit detail and is maintained and managed by DHA at a “secure web-storage facility”.
That very same QR-Code will then be scanned upon arrival here in SA.
The e-visa rollout plan
Beginning with what the department is calling “Phase one, release one”, applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas and applications for waivers will be done through the new system.
The rollout of phase one of the e-visa system will be at a foreign mission, embassy or local Home Affairs office yet to be determined.
“This is to ensure system stability. Once table, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online,” Gigaba said
According to DA Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos, these modern-day visas will have big positives for the tourism industry.
“Electronic visas will boost the tourism industry by cutting turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation while ensuring the information of applicants is secure.”
“Most importantly, improved tourist arrivals will facilitate more job growth in the industry while guaranteeing job security for 1,4 million South Africans already working in the tourism industry.”
The new system could see tourists flocking to SA in larger numbers than before.
Airbnb has proved a lifesaver to many South African women hosts, giving an especially welcome financial boost to single mothers, according to latest statistics released by the hotel and guest lodge booking platform.
In the report Across the BRICS: How Airbnb connects the emerging economies, the platform detailed how the service contributed towards GDP in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“South Africa has seen the strongest growth in guest arrivals from BRICS nations at 380%, with explosive year-over-year growth in guests arriving from Brazil, by a factor of nine. South African hosts’ total income earned from BRICS-based guests ranks the highest of the five countries at $1.88m (about R24.3m),” the report read.
“The typical woman host in South Africa earned nearly $2 000 (R25 917.10) last year, more income than earned by the typical women hosts in other countries. More than 60% of women hosts in South Africa are Superhosts – hosts who are specially designated by Airbnb as hosting guests frequently, receiving a high number of five-star reviews, and being exceptionally responsive to guests and committed to reservations with 60% of South African women hosts with children, i.e., single mothers, use (sic) their Airbnb income to help them stay in their homes,” it said.
About 5.3 million Airbnb users from developing nations generated more than $467m over the past year, according to latest statistics released by the app.
The year-on-year growth rate of intra-BRICS guest arrivals was reported at 134%, according to the study.
With interest in travel and tourism on the rise, reaching 10% of global GDP in 2017, Airbnb allows BRICS countries to benefit in their share of the income, said the report.
Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service that helps people lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms with 97% of the listing price going directly to hosts.
By Kyle Venktess for Fin24
The latest Tourism Business Index (TBI) 3rd quarter results from Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has been released and the findings are alarming. Business confidence is at a record low, with the second lowest reported since 2010, and the lowest yet this year. The drop in confidence is largely attributed to national government’s utter failure in responding to the tourism industry’s concerns in particular, visa regulations.
The tourism industry is a popular target for credit card fraud, according to a leading payment services provider – but there are ways to manage the risk.