SA Tourism launches project to help struggling accommodation establishments

SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona at the Isango Gate Boutique Hotel in Summerstrand on Wednesday
SAFETY FIRST: SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona at the Isango Gate Boutique Hotel in Summerstrand on Wednesday
Image: Supplied

Tourism establishments are operating at about 40% capacity and it is devastating, the manager of Isango Gate in Summerstrand told SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona when he paid them a visit on Wednesday.

Last week, within hours of President Cyril Ramaphosa closing Eastern Cape beaches visitors started cancelling in droves.

Isango Gate manager Walter Mazano said December was usually their peak season, but with Nelson Mandela Bay being declared a hotspot, the cancellations were inevitable.

“We are very worried,” he said.

“Even functions and events have been cancelled, not just hotel stays, and that will result in loss of revenue, and our cancellation only allows us to give a full refund depending on a certain period,” Mazano said.

The difficulties faced by tourism establishments is what prompted SA Tourism, through its business unit the Tourism Grading Council of SA (TGCSA), to launch an initiative to support graded accommodation establishments in Covid-19 hotspots.

After the identification of the “hotspot” districts and the confirmation of a second wave and a new variant of the virus, about 565 graded establishments across the Bay, Sarah Baartman and Garden Route municipalities will benefit from a technology solution called the Automated Data Capturing Solution (ACDS) which will assist establishments with real-time registration of guests.

Ntshona said that as part of phase one of the ACDS, establishments, through a unique code, would be able to capture the details of their guests which may assist with the tracking and tracing process when positive cases arise in the region.

Ntshona visited three establishments on Wednesday, where sanitiser dispensers and information to create awareness and educate travellers about Covid-19 protocols were given out.

He said the tourism sector had suffered under the lockdown and with health minister Zweli Mkhize confirming that the country was in a second wave, the effect and the consequence on the sector had grown.

“Tourism is still open and we really want to encourage people to continue to travel but to do it safely,” he said.

“We are aware that beaches are closed but this drive is also about showing people that there is more to offer in this area and there are so many other activities.”

He said establishments needed to be equipped with the necessary tools to create awareness, and at the same time ensure that safety protocols and compliance were adhered to.

“The assistance of the sanitiser stations and marketing material will also go some way to alleviating costs that many of these establishments have to carry to ensure that compliance and safety regulations are met,” he said.

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