Covid-19 update from David Green, CEO V&A Waterfront

Fellow Waterfrontiers

Last week came news of the emergence of a new Covid variant, discovered by South African scientists. Unfortunately, their commendable transparency has led to our main source markets of international tourists (UK; USA; Germany; Netherlands) imposing immediate travel bans and restrictions on Southern Africa. This has brought a halt to the prospects of improved business recovery during the upcoming summer season.

Little is known about the Omicron variant, including whether it is more transmissible or harmful, or whether it is resistant to the current vaccines.  Until there is more certainty on these questions, it is unlikely that travel bans and restrictions will be lifted.

The position of the V & A Waterfront is that we are going to have to live safely with the virus and that there is incontrovertible evidence that vaccination is the best defence against becoming seriously ill from this virus.

Accordingly, we are recommending that all staff working in our neighbourhood get vaccinated. Our initial approach has been to make it easy to get vaccinated and encouraging all staff to do so. So far, some 83% of our own head office staff have been vaccinated. Looking forward, we are considering making it compulsory for all customer- and tenant-facing staff to be vaccinated further we are looking to ensure this will apply to our all subcontractors as well.

On Sunday night, the President thankfully took the decision not to impose additional lockdown measures and once again emphasized the importance of being vaccinated. He also noted the disappointingly low numbers of people who have received the vaccine and indicated that a way forward on accelerating vaccination is being discussed. This may include making it mandatory, so our approach is in line with national policy.

As the country’s leading tourist destination, and the first tourist destination to earn the safe travel stamp from WTTC, we think it important to reassure visitors that we have excellent protocols in place to mitigate against spreading the virus.

Having outlined our stance on vaccinations, we would ask that you confirm your stance with regard to your customer-facing staff.

Linked to the issue of requiring staff to vaccinate is the international trend – albeit not universally accepted – towards the use of vaccine passports to obtain entry into events and venues. We are monitoring how this unfolds while at the same time are supportive of event and conference organisers taking this approach for activities staged within the V&A.

While international travel plans have been disrupted for many, we are looking forward to many domestic tourists choosing Cape Town – and of course the Waterfront – as their holiday destination. We remain a favoured destination for domestic tourists, and we can offer a multitude of outdoor spaces and activities, along with safe indoor spaces for visitors to enjoy themselves. Given that we have so much outside space to offer, we are able to ensure appropriate social distancing, and allow all our guests to enjoy themselves without worrying.

I am optimistic about the coming festive season, notwithstanding the interruption of international travel. We will unfortunately need to wait a bit longer for a material increase in international tourists who would normally come in the January to March period. The prospect of these tourists returning hinges on greater scientific understanding of the Omicron virus. In the meantime, we are closely tracking on our footfall and trade to understand the impact the latest developments are having on the business and I wish to reassure you of our continued support and special relief measures for those business categories most adversely affected by the absence of international travellers.

I look forward to hearing from you.



David Green

CEO of the V&A Waterfront