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A Sense of Humour

Eight days after the President announced that the tourism sector would be reopening, the South African out of touch Minister for Tourism announced the conditions under which it would be operating. And in so doing, she again demonstrated that the government has a sense of humour that we just don't get.

Hotels can reopen - but only for essential and business travellers, while domestic leisure travel remains verboten. And you can undertake day-trips as long as they take place in the Province you reside as inter-Provincial travel is still not allowed. And restaurants can reopen, but while you can enjoy a sit-down meal, you aren't allowed to have a drink with that.! Once again, the industry is being hamstrung by a government that just doesn't get it.

Clearly, the deployees and civil servants in the Department of Tourism have time on their hands - after all, they have continued to receive their full salaries while being gainfully allowed to tend their gardens at home. This bloated and unproductive collection of misfits seem to have truly been applying themselves to the ways in which to completely destroy tourism in South Africa while giggling like schoolgirls at every turn. Or is that the case?

Could it possibly be that this is a reaction to what is being seen as a lack of commitment to safer and more responsible practice by business owners? The Tourism Business Council and the Restaurant Association of South Africa released protocols and guidelines for COVID-aware businesses last month, but very few businesses have actually implemented these to date. As we have said in previous blog's, there seems to be a reluctance on the part of business to do something about reducing the infection rate - almost hoping that the virus and the regulations will disappear, and perhaps this is part of the problem. How can the authorities relax the regulations knowing that for many, it will be business as usual?

Regulations are by their very nature, created to address the lowest common-denominator in any industry, and while the vast majority of players simply ignore the protocols and recommendations of the formal sector, government has no option but to create unreasonable and often farcical conditions for businesses. And South Africa has a history of this kind of behavior - think back to the imposition of anti-smoking regulations for restaurants and hotels. Because the industry either ignored the regulation to create non-smoking areas, legislation to force compliance followed. Will the same be seen under this pandemic, or will the industry take responsibility and get their house in order in an effort to show the myopic, unconcerned and despotic officials that they have a handle on this.

And perhaps the government need to see that there are solutions in place, and consider supporting them rather than creating greater mistrust, greater losses and greater animosity to their respective ministries.

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