Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has revealed that the negative publicity generated by a variant discovered in South Africa is threatening to ‘perish’ the entire industry. Visitors are allegedly spooked by the 501Y.V2 strain, after it was branded ‘more transmissible’ than other mutations of COVID-19.
The SA variant could harm tourism
Although there was some truth to these claims, it doesn’t really tell the whole story: New variants have surfaced across the globe, with varying levels of threat. The 501Y.V2 virus does spread quicker than the original form of COVID-19, but it is no deadlier than others. There were initial fears that this mutation could also diminish the efficacy of certain vaccines.
Several airlines have extended their suspension of flights into Mzansi, and international travel restrictions have put SA ‘on a high-risk list’ in over 30 countries. However, following the AstraZeneca debacle that disrupted the South African vaccine rollout, it now appears that both Pfizer and AZ jabs CAN provide strong protection against the colloquially named ‘SA variant’.
Industry SOS sounded by Minister
And THAT is what Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane intends to prove to other countries. A series of bilateral talks are being organised, as South Africa races to woo overseas tourists back to the country in 2021. Fears of a third wave of COVID-19 remain high, but MKN believes that tourism must be allowed to flourish throughout the year:
“When South Africa announced that there was a variant that came up within the country, that made international tourists more cautious. We believe, in the tourism industry, that we cannot afford another hardcore lockdown.”
“This will only perish one of our economic cornerstones. The department is busy setting up bilateral meetings with ambassadors of countries that have flagged South Africa over the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19.”
Minister of Tourism, @mmKubayiNgubane will deliver opening remarks at the virtual Women in Tourism webinar as we celebrate International Women's Day, 8 March 2021 at 15h00https://t.co/OmtOS7Y9dv#WomenInTourism#IWD2021#InternationalWomensDay#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/DXEZBKMLDC
— Dept of Tourism (@Tourism_gov_za) March 8, 2021