Globally the COVID-19 pandemic bought devastating impacts to multiple economic sectors, with a major downfall observed in the tourism sector, owing to explicit travel bans on foreign and domestic tourism. In Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB), South Africa, tourism plays an important role, but negative effects from the pandemic and resulting restrictions left the sector dwindling and in need of a path to recovery. Working together with local government and stakeholders, this study applied system dynamics modelling to investigate the impacts of COVID-19 on coastal tourism in NMB, to provide decision-support and inform tourism recovery strategies. Through model analysis, a suite of management interventions was tested under two ‘what-if’ scenarios, with reference to the business-as-usual governance response scenario. Scenario one specifically aimed to investigate a desirable tourism recovery strategy assuming governance control, whereas scenario two investigated a scenario where the effects of governance responses were impeded on by exogenous effects from the virus. Results suggested that uncertainty remained prevalent in the trajectory of the infection rate as well as in associated trends in tourism, however, through the lifting of travel restrictions and the continual administration of vaccines, a path to recovery was shown to be evident.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Vermeulen-Miltz, E., Clifford-Holmes, J., Snow, B. & Lombard, A. 2022, 'Exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on coastal tourism to inform recovery strategies in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa', Systems, 10(4), article no: 120. https://doi.org/10.3390/systems10040120

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Last updated: 12 August 2022
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