South Africa’s tourism sector has witnessed a rebound since the country further eased its Covid-19 lockdown restrictions last week.
In the past few days, locals have frequented tourist destinations, including national parks, theme parks, amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centres, zoos, aquariums, science centres, nature and game reserves, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.
The South African National Parks (SANParks) has reported a massive rush in bookings, causing its website to crash last week.
Other travel agencies have also seen increased volume of hotel reservations.
On August 18, South Africa eased the lockdown restrictions from level three to two, under which citizens can move across provincial borders for all purposes, including leisure.
International tourism, however, is still prohibited.
The tourism sector was shut down completely on March 27 when the lockdown was enforced to curb the spread of the virus.
With the re-opening of tourism, the government expects to forge a new path toward recovery as many people in the sector return to work to provide for their families following months of hardship, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said.
“We encourage South Africans to not only support the tourism sector to preserve the business and the jobs but also to enjoy their beautiful country after months of being in their homes,” Kubayi-Ngubane said while issuing directives for the re-opening of the tourism sector.
Income for the tourist accommodation industry fell 98 per cent in May 2020 compared with same month last year, according to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.
The tourism sector lost more than 68 billion rand ($4 billion) due to the national lockdown, the TBCSA said.
About 600,000 direct tourism jobs will be lost in 2020 due to the pandemic, the council said.
As of Monday, the total number coronavirus cases in South Africa stood at 609,773, the fifth highest in the world, while the death toll increased to 13,059.