Cape Town likely to lose 90000 Tourism jobs, develops a Strategy to open the city to Tourism once Travel is permitted again!



The South African Tourism industry is preparing itself for the reopening of our country’s provincial as well as international borders, although the prognosis of when this might be is not certain or confirmed. BusinessTech yesterday quoted South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona as predicting that Level 1, which returns the country to its normal operation, is only likely in the first Quarter of 2021, although nothing is certain yet, he added.

The prognosis that 90000 Tourism employees will lose their jobs in Cape Town alone, according to a survey by Cape Town Tourism, reflects the heavy burden being placed on employers in the Tourism sector, which includes Restaurants too. The job loss figure implies that almost all but about 10000 employees will lose their job in the Tourist sector. 

Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy is quoted by KFm as saying that ‘many (Tourism) businesses were coming to a complete standstill and were fighting for survival due to extensive travel bans’. He called for Government to consider ‘working with the industry in applying enhanced safety protocols in the hope that local tourism could be moved to at least level 3’. The majority of Tourism businesses in Cape Town cannot survive for more than a year without running their businesses, the survey found, many only partially paying their staff, others having placed their staff on unpaid leave, and some already having retrenched their staff.


Last week Cape Town Tourism hosted a Webinar with City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management James Vos. This is the statement which the City of Cape Town released after the Webinar, detailing a three-phase Tourism Industry Recovery Strategy :

Statement by the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos

Yesterday, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos, joined by the CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy, held a webinar highlighting the plans to help the tourism industry on the road to readiness and recovery. The plans include partnering with industry specialists to help members breathe life back into our tourism industry, helping them with their recovery planning, adapting business focus, a Business Incubation Programme as well as targeted industry sessions, recovery training, dedicated business consultant sessions and partnership onboarding.

The COVID-19 crisis has certainly made its presence felt on Cape Town’s tourism industry. The City of Cape Town and our official Destination Marketing Organisation, Cape Town Tourism (CTT), have formulated plans, embracing technology and using research as a strategic guide, to plot a sustainable future for this vital and vibrant sector.

Tourism is and will remain a key industry in our City and it is central to our economic recovery. According to the latest available statistics from Statistics South Africa, tourism added roughly R18 billion to our local economy and directly supported just over 113 000 jobs in 2018, showing just how critical this sector is for Cape Town and our residents.

To face this challenge head-on, I established the Tourism Task Team to manage and co-ordinate the interventions needed to minimise the devastating effect that COVID-19 has on the tourism industry.

More importantly, this team has worked on our recovery strategies that will reshape and re-conceptualise tourism post COVID-19. Now, and in the future, we have an opportunity to rebuild our industry not just to what it was before, but into something even better. This requires bold and brave new steps to drive the industry forward.

There are three phases in the City’s COVID-19 tourism action plan, including Containment, Adjustment and Recovery.

Containment phase
In the Containment phase, clear communication was key. To ensure that the industry has access to credible information, a communications plan was rolled out as of 1 March 2020. This includes daily industry e-mailers providing the most up-to-date information while ensuring our destination remains top-of-mind.

CTT’s website,, has become the home of information on COVID-19 for visitors, and offers a 24-hour Live Chat as well as various educational resources.

We are also sharing tips and messages of hope to our potential visitors as well as industry partners and members. We launched ‘A Survivalists Guide to the 21-day Lockdown’ – in which our proudly Capetonian celebs look at the lighter side of lockdown, and ‘Travel from your Couch’ which enables virtual travel experiences from the comfort of your home.

Adjustment Phase
The adjustment phase entails gathering solid research and data to best inform our plans going forward. We are conducting research to understand the current market trends, new health requirements, client satisfaction shifts, the market-readiness of Cape Town, new target markets as well as possible changes to products and demands. We specially want to understand the behavioral changes resulting from the impact of COVID-19 in order to continue to globally position Cape Town as the premier city to Visit, Live, Work, Study, Play and Invest. This will also inform what kind of support will be the most effective.

We have launched our exciting ‘Seeing is believing’ campaign which involves digital interviews in which tourism businesses discuss how COVID-19 has effected them but also how they are adapting to the new normal.

The Adjustment Phase also includes international tourism trade training, virtual marketing initiatives and Online Travel Training.

We have adapted our Visitor Information Centre services by offering visitors an online and 24-hour live chat capability. For visitors who are in-destination, support is available, including emergency support.

It is very encouraging to see that corporates are providing support to the tourism sector during this difficult time. This support includes letters of endorsement and daily industry e-mailers. A Small Business Survival Toolkit and checklist has been developed and contains the essentials to help get businesses back to work safely as soon as they are allowed to do so.

Recovery phase
CTT is partnering with industry specialists to help members with their recovery planning. This includes adapting business focus, a Business Incubation Programme as well as targeted industry sessions, recovery training, dedicated business consultant sessions, and partnership onboarding.

Recovery will happen and I am resolute that Cape Town will be ready to welcome back her tourists. Key to our recovery plans are the campaigns that will be rolled out to entice tourists back to the Mother City and I am pleased that CTT’s CEO, Enver Duminy, could join me to elaborate on these exciting plans run by his organisation on behalf of the City.

The City and CTT will partner with industry specialists to breathe life back into our tourism industry and, equally as important, the sectors that underpin the tourism industry, such as food and beverage, accommodation, transportation, events as well as goods and services.

It is critical that we take advantage of the opportunity we now have to reimagine the future of tourism in Cape Town.

The City will focus on a Responsible Tourism approach as we must ensure economic growth that will create job creation and social upliftment of our people through tourism. A key part of our recovery will also include the launch of a Tourism Schools Programme to improve the understanding of the New Normal by our future leaders and Tourism Entrepreneurs.

Our recovery plans include investing in airport branding in our key source markets so that Cape Town is top of mind when domestic and international travel commences.

We will tailor targeted messaging to visit Cape Town to our international markets and will soon launch an exciting and easy-to-use SMART CITY app.

As a City government, our Finance Directorate recently confirmed City relief measures available to this sector. Guest houses and certain B&Bs now have the option of applying to change their property classification, due to the impact of COVID-19, which could cut rates bills in half in some cases. For more information on this or to apply to reclassify your property category, please email:

We will work closely with our communities and the industry in preparing to welcome our domestic and international visitors back to Cape Town. Our marketing efforts will then be ramped up to promote the destination’s brand promise to a local and global audience.

The recently launched and award winning ‘We are worth waiting for!’ ( ) campaign encapsulates everything our beautiful, diverse and exciting city has to offer. There is a reason we have been voted the best city in the world seven times in a row. We have so much to offer no matter what local and international tourists are looking for and want to remind potential visitors why they love Cape Town so much.

I am confident that together with our official tourism agency, combined with the recovery plans we have in place, we will come back from this crisis, stronger than before and ready to share the abundant experiences Cape Town has on offer’.


The dire straits in which many freelance Tourist workers, such as Tourist Guides, find themselves as a result of the Lockdown is exacerbated by the fact the R350 per month for six months grant for unemployed persons not receiving any financial support is only applicable to persons 18 – 59 years in age. Tourism is a sector which attracts many fit and able persons over this age limit, and it is grossly unfair that the 60 plus year olds are discriminated against, purely on the basis of age.


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein


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