Begone, Foul Demon!

“A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”

William Greenough Thayer Shedd, Theologian: c1890

The tourism industry is a South African economic stable. It has been – and remains – crucial to the financial wellbeing of our country, and any loss reverberates far deeper than just among the employees in the industry itself. So it is with great concern that we note that estimates of R58 billion are being bandied about: this is the loss to the economy caused by a mere three month downtime in tourism. Add to that related losses that cannot be accurately estimated, consumables and other necessary purchases made by visitors, and we can see that the loss to the economy is staggering. It is certainly not sustainable, and when you drill down into the personal situation of the individuals that make up this vibrant (when it is working) industry, the scale of the problem becomes frightening.

Added to the downturn in tourism is the current half/half measures implemented by a government that is losing the Covid-19 plot. The banning of alcohol sales is a head-scratcher: it’s hardly a surprise that violent crime escalates due to alcohol abuse – South Africa, and the world as a whole, has adequate histories of alcohol related crimes and incidents to refer to. Prohibition in the USA led inexorably to organised crime, and it is no different this time around. Banning alcohol does not reduce drunkenness; it merely makes it more expensive and tax-free. There might have been some sense in the initial ban, as hospitals geared up, but now the government has no excuse for its heavy-handed approach. Waterfront Charters are fully behind the restaurateurs in their drive to allow both more freedom in their patron numbers and their ability to serve alcohol to intelligent adults. We work with some of the top restaurants in the V&A Waterfront, so we understand their pain. After all, if the powers that be can allow taxis to transport full loads in confined spaces…

Waterfront Charters are ready to resume cruises. As a company that has the word ‘safety’ as its key value, we have put into place every possible protocol required by government. After all, we would hardly put ourselves at risk, would we? With a constant flow of guests our first concern is keep staff and crew members safe, and if they are safe so are clients. And what about our base, the beautiful attraction in its own right, the V&A Waterfront? Is it safe to visit a high-density area? Yes. Very much so. We quote them:
The V&A have received acknowledgement from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) that they comply with their global safety and hygiene protocols and may therefore display the Global Safe Travels stamp. The global protocols were developed in collaboration with the WTTC Members, leading industry associations and international organisations. They considered the current guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The initiative is also backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

As an umbrella company, and WTTC member, the V&A Waterfront company will be able to roll out the Global Safe Travels stamp for use to tenants who have also adopted these protocols as part of their own. Waterfront Charters will make sure that this stamp of approval is reflected on their marketing material too: it’s a group effort here in the V&A Waterfront, and if tourism is to be resumed – when it’s resumed – we want every visitor, every employee, every person who sets foot in the precinct and onto one of our boats, to know they are safe. What we need is for government to recognise that South African tourism members are mature enough to understand the risks posed, are intelligent enough to counter them, and concerned enough to know why. The ‘cut and paste’ lockdown legislation is failing our country; the sooner we normalise all industry the better the long term prospects for economic recovery. Covid-19 is here; it’s not going anywhere soon. What we need to do is incorporate its presence into our lives without letting it dominate. There are many effective measures to counter the spread without us all having to live – and starve – like hermits. Flu killed millions of people in the post WW1 world; it’s still with us but it’s effect has been diluted and modified by time and advances in medicine. The same will happen with coronavirus; we need to get on with our lives.

We ask all South Africans to support the tourism industry in its efforts to resume normal operations: after all, when that happens you will be able to take cruises with Waterfront Charters again. Now there’s an attractive incentive.