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CCorona Virus: Industry update

Key Position

This is foremost a human calamity, afflicting hundreds of thousands of people. Along with considerable human suffering, it has also brought major economic disruption. It is having a growing impact on global and national economies, financial markets, business cycles and individual firms. This is no different for the tourism sector – with travel restrictions and the cancellation of many planned visits, flights and business events.  While South Africa is very fortunate that, to date, there is has been no case of COVID-19 in South Africa. However, 2 South Africans who were crew members of the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for Corona virus. 

The outbreak is constantly evolving and we remain alert and focused to ensure provide our sector with critical updates and plans. 


Screening and readiness 

Government is currently implementing a formal, inter-sectoral plan to ensure our readiness, optimisation of resources and capability within the country in the event of a case of Covid-19. This includes a countrywide network of health facilities, the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) which is able to perform diagnostic testing and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) with its highly qualified staff, extensive sophisticated laboratory systems and emergency operations centre.

A robust health system for the control of infectious diseases and greater awareness, combined with coordination, collaboration and additional time to prepare, will be advantageous for South Africa, which has not yet experience case growth.


Collaboration across the value chain = domestic travel 

While a drop in international tourists and outbound travellers is a serious concern, it presents an opportunity for creating sustainable incentives to help boost the domestic market and encouraging South Africans to travel to regional tourist destinations around the country. Price-sensitive local travellers will be looking for add-on packages and exclusive experiences that will make their Rands stretch further.

Although the impact of the virus is catastrophic, not all is lost. This presents the industry with a challenge to redirect all cancelled outbound travel to domestic travel opportunities. This is a means by which the sector can help mitigate the economic impact of the corona virus, by boosting domestic tourism.

We must mobilise our sector coordinate and collaborate across the tourism value chain – involving every part of the industry, public bodies, private companies and tourist and travellers themselves.


Africa Travel Indaba 2020 

As one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar, Africa’s Travel Indaba 2020 (12 – 14 May 2020) will go ahead as scheduled. However, with constant developments on a daily basis, SAT will continue to keep industry stakeholders updated on any changes affecting the event.

While South Africa has not experienced any case of COVID-19, the modifications being witnessed in business and leisure travel behaviour against the backdrop of the global outbreak of the virus, affords us an opportunity to remodel how travel trade shows are delivered. By leveraging the power of digital technologies, we can deliver digitally enabled meaningful trade experiences for buyers and delegates and unlock Africa's opportunity to lead in digital trade show hosting.

Similarly, we can leverage the same digital capability to empower South African tourism players to be ‘at’ international travel and trade shows and continue to showcase South Africa as a destination, when they are unable to travel to such events.


Sports & leisure

As SAT leverages existing and newly formed partnerships and collaboration with sports federations and broadcasters, we can ensure that fans are able to still ‘attend’ and experience our global events by delivering superior broadcast commentary and high definition viewing experiences, when they are unable to travel. 


Travel impact 

Travel restrictions, and the cancellation of many planned visits, flights, business and leisure events are severely affecting many service sectors. This is likely to persist for some time. Worldwide, Chinese tourists account for around one-tenth of all cross-border visitors, and one-quarter or more of all visitors in Japan, Korea and some smaller Asian economies. The spending by Chinese visitors, are also significant in many countries.

Against this backdrop and within the South African context of low economic growth; the national target of attracting 21 million visitor arrivals by 2030 and China as a priority market for inbound tourist arrivals, South African Tourism (SAT) is committed to working together with all tourism industry stakeholders to prevent, mitigate and respond to the impact of the virus on our industry.  

For regular updates on the Corona virus, please visit



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