Alan Winde blasts Cyril Ramaphosa's 'tourism accommodation ban'

Province's tourism sector could be 'decimated', says Western Cape premier

13 July 2020 - 18:19 By Aron Hyman
Western Cape premier Alan Winde working from his home, where he in self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde working from his home, where he in self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.
Image: Twitter/Alan Winde

Western Cape premier Alan Winde says the tourism sector will “likely be decimated” following a ban on leisure tourism accommodation announced in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Sunday.

He said the decision for the ban was made “without proper scientific evidence or reasoning to support” it, putting 200,000 tourism jobs in the Western Cape alone at risk.

“I am deeply concerned by the effective banning of all leisure tourism accommodation as promulgated in regulations yesterday,” Winde said on Monday.

“Leisure tourism accommodation that can open safely, following proper safety protocols, should be allowed to do so. We need to view the tourism sector as a partner in our Covid-19 pandemic, and work with them to adapt to this new normal,” he said.

He said he would be raising his concern directly with Ramaphosa “as a matter of urgency” and that the Western Cape government would continue to push for the “safe reopening” of the tourism sector.

“The failure to do this will likely see the sector decimated, with more than 50% of jobs being lost. The knock-on effect for the overall Western Cape economy will be severe,” he said.

He also called for a “long-term, behavioural change approach” to alcohol, as opposed to a long-term ban on the sale of alcohol.

He pointed to stats which showed that there were many positive effects as a result of the initial ban on alcohol, which came into effect when the country was placed under hard lockdown in March. But he said the ban on alcohol would push the alcohol industry underground.

“During alert level 4 and [the] hard lockdown, when alcohol sales were initially banned, the Western Cape saw a marked decrease in the number of murders in the province- particularly stabbings,” said Winde.

“We also saw a significant decrease in the number of admissions to our hospital facilities for alcohol-related trauma events. However, after sales were unbanned on June 1, we saw an almost immediate and notable increase in the number of murders and a surge in trauma admissions again.”

These alcohol-related medical incidents placed an additional strain on the health-care system, he said, especially on ICU units that are in desperately short supply due to Covid-19 demands.

He said the new ban may result in a reduction of murder, gender-based violence and road traffic accidents, and that the ban would have an immediate impact on hospital capacity.

But he also called the ban a “blunt mechanism” that would negatively affect the Western Cape economy with its large wine industry, resulting in job losses.

“It will also push the sale of alcohol 'underground', with less control over registered sales by our liquor authority. To put it simply, while this may help in the short term, the problem is not going to go away and a long-term ban is not feasible,” he said.

He said “smart interventions” targeting behavioural change were needed to address the ills of alcohol abuse.

Winde, who was himself diagnosed with Covid-19 last week, pledged, together with his wife Tracy, to donate 67 masks as part of the province’s “Masks for Madiba” campaign ahead of Mandela Day this weekend.

He urged companies and individuals to also contribute to the campaign by donating masks as there were many people who could not afford to buy a mask.

“Our own behavioural science research and medical advice is that mask-wearing remains one of the most effective measures in slowing the spread of the virus,” he said, following Ramaphosa's announcement on Sunday of stricter regulations around mask wearing.

“However, wearing a mask is not a natural human behaviour and it is difficult to get used to. These additional regulations will therefore make sure that mask-wearing becomes part of the 'new normal' that we are faced with in the Western Cape and South Africa.”