A woman gets as close to the beach. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

THE South African tourism industry has welcomed the government’s decision to allow international travel after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the nation will move from Level 2 to Level 1 of the lockdown.

The country’s tourism sector has been severely affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, which saw the borders close early on in the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The Tourism Business Council CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said in an interview with eNCA that this announcement is important to those whose livelihoods depend on international travel.

“This type of announcement is quite useful to us to be able to communicate to our international markets to say, now that the president has announced, we are ready to go back to business. Although we know that it is going to be specific countries, it is an important milestone for us and for many employees that are in the tourism sector it is a very emotional day,” said Tshivhengwa.

“Tourism can be South Africa’s economic lifeline. Every day we have been closed to international travel, we have lost R336m of spend and the government has lost vital tax revenue. Opening up our tourism sector will have a direct and immediate positive impact on the government’s coffers at a time when it most needs it.”

International travel will restart from 1 October 2020.

Cabinet decided on Wednesday that the country should move to alert Level 1 as of midnight on Sunday, 20 September 2020.

“This move recognises that levels of infection are relatively low and that there is sufficient capacity in our health system to manage the current need,” said Ramaphosa.

(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)

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