|Today, on the request of our local tourism and hospitality sectors, with Cape Town Tourism, I convened a briefing session for stakeholders in tourism and travel industry to address the concerns of the Covid-19 outbreak. To keep our international community in Cape Town informed, the diplomatic corps were also invited.
The purpose of this session was to communicate the measures in place to reduce the possibility of Covid-19 entering Cape Town as well as the readiness to deal with any possible Covid-19 cases.
My thoughts are with the countries currently dealing with confirmed cases of Covid-19. What happens in one part of the world, ultimately affects us all. Already we are seeing a substantial drop in tourism and travel globally, with an expected 1.5% drop in international travel.
That is why it is important that government and stakeholders speak with one voice to ensure that our country is seen as the tourism and business-friendly destination that we are.
I would like to thank my provincial colleague and MEC of Health, Dr. Nomafrench Mbombo, for briefing the meeting on her departments’ readiness to prevent any spread and, if necessary, to deal with any cases of Covid-19.
It is important that we work together, that we address the concerns around this outbreak in a responsible way and not create unnecessary panic. As a responsive government, the focus is currently on prevention and we are keeping up-to-date with all developments related to Covid-19.
The tourism and hospitality sectors are vital to the economy of Cape Town. We work hard to attract visitors, both business and leisure tourists, so they spend time and money in our beautiful city, enabling job creation. I am comforted by the fact that this sector has proven to be resilient and that it can and will bounce back from the impact of this global pandemic.
I am pleased to confirm that World Travel Market (WTM) Africa, the signature tourism event on the City’s calendar, will go ahead next month.
The WTM organisers are following World Health Organisation guidelines on Covid-19 in the interests of all delegates.
WTM Africa is the leading exhibition for the inbound and outbound African travel and tourism markets. It is the only travel show of its kind on the African continent and the City of Cape Town is proud to be the host city for the 7th time.
The 2020 edition of the WTM Africa is expected to generate $451 million worth of business over the 3 days.
Reed Exhibitions Africa, who owns the WTM Africa, have communicated directly with all of their buyers. Following the measures in place by the Western Cape Health Department and the South African Government, all buyers apart from those countries with travel restrictions in place, will be attending WTM Africa.
I am also happy to report that the Cape Town International Airport has taken numerous steps to ensure the safety and health of the passengers and visitors through the airport. They are working closely with Port Health and the South African Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that they effectively mitigate risk.
The airport has activated its Emergency Control to respond to the severity of the situation. The focus is on detection, prevention, and protection. Currently, Port Health Officers, supported by the military, screen all International Arriving passengers. The Cape Town International Airport team have put a number of measures in place such as an increase in sterilization, this includes communal areas such as trolleys, bathrooms, escalators and the like. Protective gear for front line and passenger facing staff including the department of home affairs will be made available. You will soon see more signage throughout the terminal precinct.
I recommend that those traveling add time onto their journey to allow for the extra health measures and screening in place and to also contact their relevant Embassy to inform them of their travel plans.
Together with the City’s Department of Enterprise and Investment, our strategic business partners and industry we will be monitoring the situation closely and will work with the travel and trade sector to mitigate any possible adverse consequences of the Covid-19, keeping the best interests of the people of Cape Town at heart.