By now, the news of the second wave of COVID-19 has undoubtedly been brought to your attention. This new information translates into a potential change in the “breath of fresh air” or holiday, we all so desperately require after the past rough year. But what about holiday destinations and the very real fact that they need this financial influx after the devasting year?
Firstly, the announcement by Dr Zweli Mkhize, the National Health Minister on Wednesday night, 9 December 2020, stated, “This evening we wish to announce that as South Africa we are now experiencing a second wave.” And the provinces contributing the most to this resurgence are the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng Province.
Dr Mkhize highlights the age distribution of new cases showed a different pattern from the norm. The peak age in this period is in the 15-19 age group. He says, “This is believed to be due to a large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions, i.e. wearing of masks, social distancing and hand and surface sanitising.
The Minister affirms, if this trajectory continues, our health care system will be overwhelmed by the numbers.
The recourse to this announcement, which the President will clarify soonest, as previously mentioned, has a significant consequence on the tourism sector. Therefore to gauge how businesses are taking the news, The Newcastillian – Online News spoke to Musa Mntambo of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
For those who are not familiar with the company—Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife sports a number resorts which include the Maloti- Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park, and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site.
In light of current events, Mntambo explains that as worrying as the announce of the second wave is, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife remains positive. He elaborates that at the moment, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is taking each day as it comes while waiting to see what the country’s leadership decides.
However, he assures Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is remaining proactive. “We are following the necessary protocols and fumigating the rooms on a regular basis. We are also looking at the condition of the guests in terms of their health when they arrive. This is to ensure the virus cannot be spread.”
Mntambo is urging holidaymakers to practice caution this December. “Just remember, just because you are on holiday, COVID-19 is not on holiday.” Simplistic yet effective words of advice.
If tourism is choked once again due to our COVID fatigue and subsequent carelessness, then more than the tourism industry will feel the backlash. Just a reminder of how much weight the tourism industry carries in SA—when looking at the Domestic Tourism Survey by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the total expenditure on domestic trips incurred in 2019 was approximately R 204 billion. This constitutes day trip spending of about R125,2 billion, while spending for overnight trips amounted to approximately R78,9 billion.
With the second wave of COVID-19 slipping into the holiday season, how will you be celebrating your holidays? Will you be travelling out of town and supporting South African tourist destinations? Or will you be celebrating the holidays at home this December? Be sure to leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer