Tourism minister announces intra-provincial leisure travel permitted

Pack your bags folks, you're now welcome to embark on intra-provincial leisure travel after Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced that amendments had been introduced to Level 3 lockdown regulations on Thursday 30 July.

The announcement will come as a massive relief to businesses in the tourism sector, which has been one of the hardest hit areas of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Inter-provincial travel remains prohibited though. 

Cabinet agrees to open up leisure travel within provinces  

The new regulation means that travelling within one's province to get away for a weekend — or any day of your choosing for that matter — is now allowed, expanding on the regulation that previously permitted travel for business purposes only. 

Kubayi-Ngubane said that after having several discussions with representatives from the tourism sector, it became overwhelmingly evident that should the ban have remained in place, hundreds of thousands of people were guaranteed to lose their jobs and livelihoods. 

"On accommodation for leisure, cabinet has agreed to ease the restrictions for leisure travel. Currently, individuals are not allowed to leave their homes for leisure purposes, but they now are allowed to do so within the province that they live in," she said. 

"Let me emphasise this though," she warned, "It is only for Intra, not Inter. So if you are in Gauteng, you can move within Gauteng. Don't go to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)."

Tourism facilities must follow new rules  

Accommodation providers must comply with the following rules when accepting bookings, which they hope will now come flooding in: 

  1. No more than two person per room, except for a "nuclear family" (Parents and children) 

  2. Establishments must keep records of visiting clients;[*]Short term rentals and home sharing remains closed;[*]Tour operators can conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles; 

The changes are set to come into effect as soon as the latest gazette is published. 

DA pleads for further opening of tourism sector 

Earlier on Thursday 30 July, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Western Cape called for the restrictions to be lifted with extreme urgency, saying that 240 000 jobs are at risk and the continued restrictions "could lead to a full-blown humanitarian crisis". 

"The situation is clearly long past the point where the continued COVID-19 lockdown is a mere inconvenience," said DA Shadow Minister for Tourism, Manny de Freitas. 

"People are losing their livelihoods at an unprecedented rate. A report from BankServAfrica indicated that more than a fifth of the South African formal workforce was already jobless in June. Almost 21% fewer salary payments were made since then. And there are predictions that 27% of jobs in South Africa has simply disappeared," he said.