ABTA’s Webinar on 4 June saw C-level industry leaders from across the Banking, Construction, FMCG and Travel sectors discussing the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their sectors, and what the road to recovery looks like.

Our panel consisting of Morne du Preez (CEO of Tourvest Travel Services), Dr. Pierre Olivier (Managing Director of Hatch Africa), Robert Taylor (Chair of Truman’s Brewery) and Thopi Mosaku
(Head: Commercial Card for Standard Bank) shared the following insights:

1. Worse than a World War

From an economic perspective, the Covid-19 pandemic has been worse than a World War, due to the fact that just about every country in every corner of the world has been impacted.  As much as all industries have been impacted by Covid-19, the sheer volume of people hired within the travel sector and the nature of travel as a business enabler for other industries highlights the tremendously negative affect felt by all within the Travel sector.  Without a robust travel industry, all other sectors are negatively impacted, and it is estimated that if South Africa is not on level one by September this year, 50% of the Travel industry will no longer exist.

2. Online will get old

As much as online meetings have replaced travel out of sheer necessity and many companies believe that online options will continue to replace face-to-face meetings once travel bans have been lifted, we believe that once the ability to travel returns, travel will again become the preferable option over online meetings.  Many types of engagements – especially across the African market where relationship building is of vital importance – will still be better served face-to-face.  Companies should be engaging staff to ensure that they are ready and willing to travel when the time comes.

3. A change in staff resource management

One of the biggest changes expected from Covid-19 will be a new willingness from companies to allow staff to work from home where relevant.  This will see a reduction in overheads related to property expenses with companies perhaps questioning why they need big office spaces, and what other alternatives exist, be it shared space, or staff working remotely.  Companies would need to understand where their employees mindsets are and which of the 3 categories they fall into – “I never want to work in an office again”, “I don’t mind where I work” or “I never want to work from home again”, and then create strategies that take these mindsets into account.

4. Companies will re-hire

For the most part, companies who retrenched staff did so under duress.  This was not a choice made, but rather the only option left to keep companies afloat.  We thus foresee that once travel volumes start picking up (estimated within 6 to 12 months of all travel bans being lifted), companies will aim to first hire back their retrenched staff, and then bring in ‘new blood’ where required.  Sadly most employees are more than likely not able to have that amount of time without an income, but there is some hope in that jobs will again be available in the not too distant future.

5. Social distancing is here to stay

Businesses and the consumers who support them will have to get ready for social distancing to become the norm, possibly up to the end of 2121 in some countries.  Areas where high traffic are the norm (retail, restaurants etc) will continue to have limitations as to the volume of people they are able to accommodate at one time.  If consumers need to stand in long queue’s waiting to get into establishments, there will be a shift in how these products are purchased or consumed, with some opting to shop online, have less social outings and so on.

6. The banking sector has a vital role to play

Consumers and companies are encouraged to engage regularly with their banks to understand what options for debt relief are available to them.  Many different concessions are being made by the banking sector to play a supporting role for both consumers and corporate clients during the Covid-19 pandemic.


If you missed this webinar, you are able to listen to it online HERE.
This resource is free of charge for ABTA Members and non Members pay R 250 ($15).


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