Blacky Komani, Board Chairperson of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) said it had not taken any legal action against government but, instead, was merely considering the legal options available to it to convince government to allow a phased reopening of the tourism sector.

TBCSA Board Chairperson Blacky Komani explained in a webinar on Monday (July 20) that the organisation had adopted a three-pronged approach to the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Legal steps are the last prong in the TBCSA’s strategy.

“The TBCSA has met with the relevant ministers, including the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, and Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize. We have engaged with the Economic Cluster as well as with President Cyril Ramaphosa,” said Komani.

“Some aspects of the sector were allowed to reopen and, yes, we understand it is not enough, but we also understand that these are difficult policy choices the President needs to make – weighing up the health of the citizens with the need to open the economy.”

Komani said as soon as the President made it clear that leisure travel was not allowed, the TBCSA had to consider its legal options.

“We have exhausted all the engagements and have therefore asked our legal counsel to look at whether we have a viable case as we want to ensure we have considered all possible outcomes.

“Once we have a legal opinion, the TBCSA board will convene and make a decision as to whether to proceed or not. We don’t want any appeals in the legal process to delay the reopening of leisure travel as we have seen how legal proceedings can delay action.”

CEO of the TBCSA, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, said the organisation was sensitive to the growing number of COVID-19 cases and how hard it had become for government to give concessions to the industry.

“We are still lobbying a great deal, especially for leisure travel to open,” he said. “But we must acknowledge some of our small wins.”

Tshivhengwa added: “We understand that many things in the regulations don’t make sense but we must solve this in a calculated way and only go to court knowing that we can win. We don’t want to weaken ourselves further.”

Both Komani and Tshivhengwa assured the industry that the TBCSA was committed to ensuring that the industry reopened and started to operate to its full capacity and were asking for a further review of regulations.