With the government’s determination to carry on with their dubious plan to dispossess land without payment, it should not come as a surprise that the tourism industry is adversely affected. Couple that with the almost monthly increase in fuel prices, which affects the local tourism trade, you can expect the closure or downscale of quite a number of holiday establishments in the future.
Since it is not in the scope of this blog post, I will not touch on the effect of the fuel price, but you can read “How To Attract More Local Holiday Makers In Your Area“.
James Vos, MP, Shadow Minister of Tourism, told Tourism Update if the motion to amend the country’s Constitution to allow expropriation of land without compensation, was passed, it would send out the wrong message. This would place the country’s brand at risk on the international stage.
According to Vos visitors select destinations that are seemingly safe, prosperous and stable. These are the core values parallel to destination selection. Vos says the portrayal of these values is crucial as it creates a positive image for tourism and trade in the country. The possibility of this land reform according to Vos, will create anxiety among travelers, as tourists start to question the level of safety in South Africa.
Julian Asher, Founder of Timeless Africa, says the land expropriation without compensation issue has had a negative impact. “It brings back memories of what happened in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, and people worry about what will happen to SA if property rights are not respected.”
According to political analyst Daniel Silke, expropriation as a tool is a red flag to many. With numerous global examples of economic and social meltdown within the context of draconian state intervention, viz. Zimbabwe and Venezuela, South Africa has walked into policy quagmire of its own making.
Silke says expropriation without compensation is framed within a narrative that implies an attack on private property, land grabs by militants and Constitutional changes which can be seen as an incremental beginning of further state encroachment.
The resort island of Margarita Island in Venezuela was once mobbed with international tourists who loved the sparkling blue water, fine white sand and flawless sunny days. Now, swimming pools are empty, toilets don’t flush and many hotels can’t afford to offer meal service.
International tourism dried up and tourists are shunning Venezuela as it has become one of the most violent countries in the world. The complex currency system furthermore makes it difficult to change money. Violent crime, including murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, drive-by shootings, and carjackings, is endemic.” The number of domestic visitors has dwindled to a trickle.
A decade ago, 40 percent of Margarita Island tourists came from abroad. Now just 4 percent of tourists are international. At one hotel, in the former coastal hotspot of Todasana, the business had fallen by 80 percent over the past year.
The crash has been devastating to people working in tourism, who are also struggling with severe shortages and raging inflation plaguing the rest of the country.
One of the most infuriating problems for locals is the daily water cuts government critics blame on lack of infrastructure maintenance. Hotel manager Luis Munoz says he counts himself fortunate to see running water every two weeks. Like most Venezuelans, Munoz spends hours each week queuing in lines to try buying basic goods at subsidized prices.
The few guests who still book his rooms must pack their own soap, towels and even toilet paper. He manages to keep his hotel’s murky pool filled from a well. But food shortages have forced him to suspend meal service.
Late last year, a number of airlines announced they would no longer fly in and out of the country, due to concerns over violence and political uncertainty.
US airlines United and Delta, Germany’s Lufthansa, Air Canada, Aeromexico, Alitalia, Colombian airline Avianca and Argentine Airlines all announced they were withdrawing services to Venezuela, prompting fears the country would be effectively wiped off the travel map.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) vice president Peter Cerda said the situation has become increasingly difficult. According to Cerda most of IATA’s members have left Venezuela as Venezuela is becoming practically more disconnected from the rest of the world, above all by air.
Mugabe’s often brutal seizure of Zimbabwe’s white-owned farms was his signature action which ravaged the country’s agricultural production. He transformed, what once was known as Africa’s breadbasket, into a land of arid fields and starving people. Mugabe cloaked the land theft in ringing rhetoric, swinging his fist and shouting that Africa’s land should be held by Africans. It didn’t matter that the farms, which had been pledged to poor blacks, instead went to his generals, Cabinet ministers, cronies, and his wife, or that many of the fields lay unproductive years later.
Mugabe’s Marxist belief that even the economy would do what he wanted proofed him to be wrong when, in 2008, Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation reached 500 billion percent.
Zimbabwe’s industrial sector is estimated to be operating at less than 30 percent of capacity. Under Mugabe’s brutal regime tourism has dried up to a trickle.