Please find an attached soundbite by Manny de Freitas MP
A report was tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday about a Tourism oversight visit done in March this year to a Coronavirus Rapid Testing Centre. The testing centre demonstrated a secure system which combines testing and vaccinations with the latest digital technology to provide an efficient health passport system which can be integrated with existing travel, health and event systems.
This is an example of how government should get the private sector more involved in opening up tourism. The DA will be encouraging government to do exactly that.
This type of testing and health passport system can help to immediately reopen the travel, tourism, events and hospitality industry whilst also protecting individuals, business, the economy and society. Travellers can upload their official Passenger details onto a Health Passport app which can be automatically linked to airlines, notifying them in real time that a passenger’s documents are in order and the passenger is fit to fly.
This technology has proven successful and has been used internationally at events that have thousands of people attending. This technology was tested and proved successful locally as well.
This government’s job-destroying lockdown and travel restrictions has regressed tourism at least 10 years. StatsSA reports that foreign arrivals dropped by 71% from over 15,8 million in 2019 to less than 5 million in 2020. The overall number of travellers decreased by 50,7% over a 15-year period from nearly 24,6 million recorded in 2006 to 12,1 million travellers recorded in 2020. South Africa did not receive visitors for a period of six months from April to September 2020.
The priority must be for us to go back to normal so that we can start working towards bringing tourism to at least 2006 levels. One of the ways to normalise the situation is to ensure that testing and vaccinations are done speedily and efficiently to as many tourists as possible.
Government should allow, and indeed encourage, the roll out of these programmes by the private sector as they are able to do this efficiently and cost-effectively.
Tourism, and the spin-offs from it, needs to be prioritised as this contributes to economic growth and job-creation. Government needs to therefore explore collaborations with the private sector. In doing this tourism will start to properly reopen in the form of various tourism-attracting events, concerts, conferences and the like.
Internationally we are seeing how various tourism markets are reopening in various countries all within the prescribed Covid protocols. These tourism sectors are being revived and people are returning to the jobs. We too need to do this immediately.