The Western Cape Department of Economic Opportunities says visitor numbers at most of the province’s popular tourist attractions dropped by more than 60% during the festive season. The situation has been blamed on the adjusted lockdown regulations.
Popular tourist attractions in the Western Cape, which have reported a sharp decline in visitor numbers include Robben Island, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, and the Cape of Good Hope.
Alert Level 3 lockdown regulations such as the curfew, the closure of beaches, and the ban on the sale of alcohol are some of the restrictions that have led to low tourist numbers.
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Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, says he will write to the national government asking that the restrictions be eased.
“Considering the evidence that the Western Cape has passed its peak and the demand on our health services is stabilising, I will write to the Minister of Tourism, calling for the immediate easing of restrictions in respect of the curfew, the closure of beaches, and the onsite consumption of liquor in restaurants and similar establishments, as well as allowing the tasting and selling of liquor at wineries and wine farms,” says Maynier.
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway says it has cancelled some of its offerings to visitors, so it can remain operational during the current lockdown.
Managing Director, Wahida Parker, says times are tough for the tourism sector.
“One of the most impactful things, that we needed to do, was not to offer our sunset special, which is very popular because that would have meant that we would not have been able to abide with curfew regulations as our staff would then only be able to leave the site way after 9 o’clock,” says Parker.
The iconic Robben Island Museum in Cape Town says its visitor numbers for December dropped by 90% due to revised Level 3 lockdown regulations compared to the same period in 2019. The world heritage site is amongst many of the popular tourist attractions in the Western Cape impacted by the revised regulations.
Robben Island Museum Spokesperson, Melany Kühn, says they are now working hard to ensure the museum’s short-term sustainability.
“Despite offering value-added discounts to encourage local visitors, the economic conditions facing so many South Africans renders this experience beyond their reach. Right now, one of our most pressing challenges, is our short-term sustainability,” says Kühn.
The number of active COVID-19 cases in the Western Cape has decreased by 50% over the last two weeks, from more than 40 000 to around 19 000. Just over 263 000 people have tested positive for the virus in the province, with more than 234 000 recoveries thus far. Around 10 000 people have died from the virus in the province.
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