After two years of complete standstill, organisers of South Africa’s mega shows and expos are eager to restart these industry events – and to give their full support if digital vaccine passports are one of the keys to getting the sector back on its feet.
Although the national department of health has not confirmed how the recently launched digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate will be used, president Cyril Ramaphosa pointed to this in his national address last week (Thursday, 30 September).
He said that the certificate could further open up Mzansi’s events and travel industry. “It can be used to facilitate travel, access to establishments and gatherings and other forms of activity that require proof of vaccination status.”
Role players in South Africa’s events industry, which has been left bruised by pandemic-induced restrictions on gathering sizes, tell Food For Mzansi that the vaccine passport is hoped to bring great relief to South Africa’s events and travel industry.
Let agri shows and events flourish again
According to Breyton Milford, operations manager of Agri-Expo, agricultural shows can only take place during certain times of the year. If these farming shows are unable to take place during designated windows, they have to be postponed to the following year. This has a negative fiscal impact on the industry.
“I certainly think that [a vaccine passport] is good news for agricultural shows in South Africa. In a lot of other countries show grounds have been used as massive vaccination sites and I’m sure that shows can also play a bigger part in accelerating the vaccine programme in South Africa.
“As we vaccinate more people, we will be able to slowly get back to a more normal life and see agricultural shows and agricultural events flourish again in South Africa,” Milford says.
With South Africa preparing for an anticipated fourth wave of Covid-19, the future of agricultural shows in the country, at this point, remains uncertain.
But Milford is hopeful that by next year, shows will be up and running again.
“I am not sure if the bigger shows will be able to function at full capacity yet, but I surely hope for at least 50% capacity at larger shows. As an agricultural events industry, we will not survive if we continue as we have for the last 20 months.”
Industry will comply
Earlier this year the largest show of agricultural machinery and livestock in the southern hemisphere – Nampo Harvest Day – was cancelled for a second consecutive year.
Du Toit Wessels, assistant manager for marketing at Nampo, believes that a vaccine passport rollout is the answer to getting agricultural shows back on track.
“Our industry would comply with any regulations government requires [for us] to do agri shows again. If vaccine passports are required, we will do so at the entry gates, as long as we can go on to organise the show,” Wessels says.
He further points out that online agricultural shows are not a viable option to consider and explore. This, as there is no money for the organiser in online shows and the platforms are very expensive, according to Wessels.
Vaccine passport carries value
Another show that had to be moved to a later date in 2022, is the wine show CapeWine, organisers Wines of South Africa (WoSA) announced recently.
The 2021 event, which was scheduled to take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Maryna Calow, communications manager at WoSA, the vaccine passport carries great value, not only for local shows but also for international events and the hospitality sector.
“This is likely to become the way forward for travellers and normal citizens. As something that has already been implemented in international markets, it is good that South Africa can also throw its hat in the ring,” Calow says.
*The passport is currently only available to people fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Users are required to fill in their contact details, including their ID number and Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) code in the electronic portal.
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