Connect with us


COVID-19 knocks 72 percent tourist volumes in South Africa



Staff Reporter

South Africa suffered a 72 percent drop in tourist volumes in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw both international and local travel coming to a complete standstill.

Tourism Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela said this in an address at the Central University of Technology (CUT) Hotel School in Bloemfontein recently.   

“Our numbers went down from 10.2 million in 2019 to 2.8 million in 2020,” said Mahlalela.

The provincial tourism department and the CUT hosted a Tourism Month Public Lecture last Friday.

The public lecture sought to promote transparent and open dialogue between government and its stakeholders in a bid to bring back stability to the sector under the “new normal”.

Mahlalela was joined by representatives from the tourism industry including product owners, academics, policy makers and practitioners.

South Africa’s theme for this year’s Tourism Month is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth – COVID-19 Recovery – Build Back Better”.

The Free State will host this year’s edition of the World Tourism Day celebrations in the picturesque town of Clarence on September 27.

Mahlalela said given the country’s high rate of unemployment, the tourism sector has been earmarked as one of the key sectors to drive South Africa’s economic recovery plan.

“Tourism is a people-orientated sector with people at the heart of its operations,” said the deputy minister. 

“It is about people, products and places. The tourism industry is of great significance and potential to South Africa and is one of the six key identified for economic growth. 

“This sector supports a vibrant and diverse value chain which experienced fundamental disruptions and is responsible for employment opportunities, geographic diversification and increased foreign currency receipts.

“The tourism sector is therefore a strategic development priority and a catalyst in growing other linked sectors.”

Before the pandemic, the tourism sector directly accounted for 2.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 8.6 percent indirectly.

It also supported 1.5 million direct and indirect jobs.

The sector supports a vibrant and complex value chain and it generates foreign direct investment and significant export earnings.

Mahlalela said the Department of Tourism, working with various stakeholders, has developed the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan.

He said the plan is anchored on three interlinked pillars, namely: protecting and rejuvenating supply; reigniting demand; and strengthening enabling capability for long term sustainability.

“South Africa offers a wide array of authentic and breath-taking experiences and I believe that we have the potential to position tourism as a powerful catalyst to stimulate wide-scale economic activity, foster growth and generate earnings,” Mahlalela explained. 

“Our focus should be on programmes that will lead to the buoyancy of the sector as well as drive transformation.

“We need to leverage on displaced regional and international markets, tap into new markets, develop new products, promote investments, build new partnerships and strengthen human capital.”

He said domestic tourism is showing signs of recovery and that since December 2020, trips have mostly stayed consistent.

The movement of light vehicles on South African roads, according to the deputy minister, is about 10-20 percent lower than in 2019.

Air travel, however, has seen a 60 percent reduction mainly due to international travel restrictions. 

“We are determined to move forward with coordinated efforts to address triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality through job creation,” said Mahlalela.

“This work has been derailed by sluggish and slow economic growth.

“It is for this reason that we place tourism as a key strategic sector of the economy, with its resilience, at the centre of our country’s growth projections and development. 

“Apart from generating revenue, tourism provides the economic opportunities, supports the development of SMMEs and has the potential to foster social cohesion.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Ngwathe pays Eskom to fix damaged line



BLACKOUT . . . The Ngwathe electrical network tripped on Friday and damaged Eskom’s equipment due to overloading

Ngwathe Local Municipality in the northern Free State has paid R1.1-million to Eskom so it can repair damages to the power line in the area caused by overloading.

Eskom provincial spokesperson Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg said in a statement the payment was made on Monday morning and work to restore supplies to Parys and Vredefort has started.

“Repairs to the Eskom equipment will now commence,” said Van Rensburg.

“Based on the assessments of the damage, supply to Ngwathe should be restored by midnight tonight,” she added.

The spokesperson however said the initial repairs were focusing on the hot connections and will only be temporary to assist communities.

Another outage will be scheduled to repair the transformer bushings that were also damaged during the overloading incident.

The Ngwathe electrical network tripped on Friday and damaged Eskom’s equipment due to overloading.

“Since 2018, Eskom has warned Ngwathe that their continued exceedance of their Notified Maximum Demand (NMD) – the contracted amount of electricity supplied by Eskom to the Municipality – will eventually result in damage to the Eskom network and that the municipality needs to apply for an upgrade in their NMD.

“In August 2021 and in April 2022, Eskom informed the municipality that any damage to the Eskom network that is caused by the municipality’s negligence, will be at the municipality’s cost.

“The municipality agreed to this condition and, although they were well informed and aware of the risks, they did not take the necessary precautions or made sufficient efforts to upgrade their NMD,” Van Rensburg explained.

Following the incident, Eskom insisted on the municipality making an upfront payment as it is one of the municipalities in the province sitting with a huge debt to the national power utility.

As at end June, Ngwathe’s overdue debt to Eskom totalled R1.89 billion.

Eskom says this debt continues to grow as current accounts are not paid in full.

“Ngwathe’s non-adherence to payment conditions and negligence in protecting the power system, jeopardises Eskom’s financial sustainability as well as the security of supply to the residents of towns such as Parys and Vredefort.

“Supply to Ngwathe will be restored to the capacity as per the contracted NMD.

“Risks of overloading and consequent damage remain, and it is imperative that the municipality invests in upgrading its supply,” according to the power company. – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Mangaung electricity tariffs up



POWER TARIFFS UP . . . Local power distributor Centlec has hiked electricity charges

Electricity tariffs in Mangaung have gone up by 7.47 percent.

In a statement released on Thursday night, local power distributor Centlec said the increase was due to come into effect at midnight on July 1 following approval by the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa.

The increase will cover the period July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

“A guideline increase of 7.47 percent on electricity tariffs for Centlec was therefore approved with effect from the 1st of July 2022 for the 2022/23 financial year,” read part of the brief statement.

It said a more detailed outline of the increases will be announced soon. – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


CUT students arrested for protesting against exams



DISTURBANCE AT CAMPUS . . . Five students protesting against exams at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein have been arrested

Police have arrested five students from the Central University of Technology (CUT) for public violence after they embarked on an unsanctioned protest against the institution’s decision to have the mid-year exams conducted in person at its two campuses in Bloemfontein and Welkom starting this Thursday.

The exams are set to run until July 20.

The fracas follows an announcement by CUT acting vice-chancellor and principal Professor Alfred Ngowi on Wednesday in which he stated the exams would take place physically at the two campuses as scheduled.

Ngowi said a detailed discussion about online exams at the Welkom campus concluded that it would not be feasible to conduct online exams because circumstances have changed regarding the COVID-19 restrictions and that it was also against the policy of the university.

“CUT is a full-contact institution and not a distance learning institution and therefore does not have the authority to accredit examinations that are not done under CUT’s status as a full-contact institution,” said Ngowin in a recorded video.

Ngowi told the students that academic assessment is one of the important building blocks of their qualifications.

He warned the students against disrupting the exams saying they would face disciplinary action as such action will be illegal.

“The unreliability of the power supply may have unintended disruptive effects,” he said.

“The COVID-19 restrictions which necessitated virtual classes and virtual assessments have all been suspended and the various accrediting bodies to which CUT is affiliated may not accredit online assessments.

“Therefore, we will proceed with physical assessments.

“Management has made all necessary preparations for the smooth running of the mid-year assessments, which have been communicated to all students.

“Therefore, any student who plans to disrupt the physical examinations on our campuses must be aware of the legal and disciplinary consequences.

“In addition, the CUT management has put several measures in place to protect the constitutional rights of all our students who are prepared for and prefer to sit for physical assessments.

“Students must be aware that any disruptions of the planned and scheduled assessments are illegal and unlawful, and students who act outside the law will have to face the consequences of their actions.

“Students further need to note that failing the upcoming academic assessments will directly impact their NSFAS funding status.

“No further funding will be available to NSFAS-funded students who fail the assessments or fail to take the upcoming assessments.”

But, in a statement, members of the South African Student Congress (SASCO) at the university argued that since all assessments had taken place online due to the COVID-19 restrictions, “it is only normal that the exams take place online as well”.

SASCO also argued that some students had not received their allowances from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and it would therefore be impossible for them to write their exams in a physical setting.

But Ngowi addressed the matter earlier in the same video: “As previously communicated through the Student Representative Council, NSFAS-funded students who still have unresolved challenges with their accommodation are encouraged to make written submissions to the relevant faculty deans in that regard.”

Park Road police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thabo Covane said members of Public Order Police Unit arrested five male students for public violence at the CUT’s Bloemfontein campus on Thursday morning.

He said the group of protesting students was warned by the operational commander to disperse within a given time as they were contravening the conditions stipulated in an issued court order but refused to do so.

“The protesting students became violent and started throwing stones and bottles at the police and the security officers,” said Covane.

“The police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The other group ran into King Edward Street and blocked traffic by placing stones on the road.

“Police then arrested the five students with ages ranging from 18 to 22 years.”

The arrested students are expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on Monday facing charges of public violence and contravening a court order. – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2022. The Free Stater. All Rights Reserved