River Meadow Manor in Centurion feels the heat of pandemic-induced lockdown

Published on : Friday, August 14, 2020

Similar to many tourist attractions, the 94-year-old River Meadow Manor in Centurion temporarily closed its doors five months before, enforcing lockdown measures. Earlier, in an average month, the 5140 hectare farm witnessed around 3000 visitors, but lockdown has brought that number down to nil.

The venue opened for business travellers on June 1 when lockdown restrictions were eased allowing business travel, but owner Siyanda Dlamini said, “The increase in infections, children still not back at school, [and] most people working from home at reduced salaries, [mean] travel, both for business [and leisure], has become the least priority for individuals and for corporates.”

River Meadow is among 3284 applications of about 7000 that were not included for receiving assistance from the Tourism Relief Fund. The R200-million fund reached 4000 businesses in the tourism sector affected by the pandemic.

Successful applicants received a once-off payment of R50000 each. The fund is now exhausted. Pandemic-induced travel restrictions have already destroyed R54.2-billion of the industry’s domestic value.

The tourism department said that if restrictions were not relaxed in June allowing partial air and business travel, the sector would have lost R149.7-billion, with as many as 438000 jobs lost.

Many companies in tourism have slimmed down operations and laid off workers. It is now left to be seen how much further the sector will decline and what strategy would be taken for tourism revival.

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