CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona.

The potential growth and post-COVID recovery of the tourism sector has been dealt another blow with confirmation – by Tourism Business Council of South Africa CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa – that the Department of Tourism’s budget has been cut by R1bn (€51.5m).

This comes as the tourism sector continues to lobby for the reopening of inter-provincial travel and then international borders by September.

Tshivhengwa told Tourism Update that even if the sector started its phased reopening, the country would not be able to market ‘destination SA’ effectively.

“The R2.4bn (€124m) budget for the Department of Tourism has been cut by R1bn – effectively 40%. And the majority of the cut (around 80%) is South African Tourism’s marketing budget,” he said.

According to Tshivhengwa, the tourism industry has lost R68bn (€3.5bn) since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown.

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni delivered a supplementary budget speech in parliament last week and Tshivhengwa said the only positive for the sector was the increase in the loan cap.

“It is good that the government guarantee loan cap has been increased. We have learned a lot and have gained insights on how can we protect the people in our properties,” said Tshivhengwa.

SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, meanwhile, has committed to pulling out all the stops to find further ways of opening up the tourism sector.

“Whilst our regional and international borders remain closed, our biggest priority is ensuring that when we are ready to share our wonderful destination with the world again, we do so in a safe and responsible manner,” he said.