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WATCH | SA Tourism's message of hope in a time of crisis

Mar 29 2020 14:59
Carin Smith

A new video released by South African Tourism on Thursday evening sends out the message that, yes, we are all in this coronavirus crisis together as a global community.

"It says, let us unite in fighting Covid-19 together. Don't travel now, so you can travel later. We must make short term sacrifices today for long term recovery," Sisa Ntshona, CEO of SAT told Fin24 on Friday.
 
He said the tourism industry is very hard hit by the impact of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, but it could also be the first to recover once Covid-19 is managed.

Tourism is not classified as an essential industry, and thus falls under the lockdown conditions.

"The reality is that certain businesses will not survive, and jobs will be lost. This pandemic will, however, change the way we do business; looking at technology and digital solutions, how we work with the collective industry on driving business and leisure tourism," cautioned Ntshona.

"While we are going through this crisis now and looking at the short-term immediate requirements we have to glean at the long term and start to put together a recovery plan. It will be comprehensive and shared throughout the sector. It will be a blueprint on how South African as a tourism destination repositions itself, both globally and domestically."

Tackling the pandemic

The approach of SAT is to provide the tourism sector with reliable and consistent information during this time of crisis.

It has repurposed its website to contain information regarded as vital for the sector, including information on the business relief mechanisms available.

"I think that when this (pandemic) is over, we are all going to emerge as very conscious consumers and travellers. Going through the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened our sense of awareness as people, and this will surely translate in how we travel," he said.

"People will be looking for meaningful and immersive experiences. Technology engagement will be the order of the day. The operating model of tourism businesses will also fundamentally change with a shift towards more agile and nimble businesses with a heavier reliance on technology."

For him the most important thing throughout the current crisis, is the preservation of human life.

"How we behave now, will impact and ultimately determine how quickly we recover from this virus," he said.

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