Covid-19 and Local Business Responses: Evidence from South Africa’s most Tourism-Dependent Locality

Jayne M. Rogerson, Refiloe J. Lekgau, Matilda M. Mashapa, Christian M. Rogerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


In emerging tourism scholarship around COVID-19 one of the major clusters of research surrounds issues of adaptation. Tourism businesses are compelled to adapt to shifts in consumer demand as well as government regulatory changes. The objective in this paper is to investigate the responses and adaptations to the impacts of COVID-19 of tourism businesses in South Africa’s most tourism-dependent locality. The research reports on 20 qualitative interviews undertaken with a cross-section of tourism enterprises in Bela-Bela Local Municipality, Limpopo province, which is overwhelmingly oriented towards the market of domestic tourism. Major results are local businesses are financially negatively impacted by the subdued nature of domestic leisure travel together with the near total collapse of business travel as well as the imperative to conform to new COVID-19 safety and health protocols. Adaptive responses have included downsizing of businesses, including worker retrenchments, pricecutting, limited initiatives towards product diversification, energetic social media marketing and repurposing of properties. Key challenges for Bela-Bela tourism enterprises relate to immediate financial issues and most especially in the context that minimal support has been provided by national government to assist their business survival. Future business prospects are not viewed favourably such that business closures and a hollowing out of the tourism enterprise base accompanying job losses in tourism appear inevitable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-405
Number of pages18
JournalAfrican Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • adaptation
  • business survival
  • domestic tourism
  • tourism businesses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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