Ramaphosa scraps red list, fully opens international travel to SA

Speaking to the nation on Wednesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the resumption of international travel subject to stringent health protocols.

Travellers are required to present a negative Covid-19 test not older than 72 hours from the time of departure.

"We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative Covid-19 certificate.

"By using rapid tests and strict monitoring, we intend to limit the spread of the infection through importation. We expect that these measures will assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

"As restrictions on international travel are lifted, it is more important than ever for travellers to follow all safety protocols to protect their health and minimise the risk of acquiring Covid-19," he said.

A victory for the tourism industry

Modipadi Phoku, a travel agent in Johannesburg, said the news was a victory for the tourism industry.

"Now that all markets will be open, we are glad to host international visitors once more. I am thrilled to plan memorable, Covid-friendly holidays for them. The opening is not only a win for the industry but also allows us to reignite our passion for making travel dreams a reality. We can't wait to start hosting again," she said.

CEO of Cape Town Tourism Enver Duminy said the announcement comes as a huge relief for those who work in the tourism industry and the businesses that greatly relies on the tourism as an economic lifeline, especially ahead of our traditionally high season.

"Many businesses have been struggling. Even though projections for travel in the weeks to come have been looking up recently, it is nowhere near where it was last year, and for many not enough to keep their doors open," he said.

CEO of Association Of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) Otto de Vries said the announcement provides clarity, consistency and a real opportunity for people to make confident choices to travel to South Africa.

"This will make a huge difference to ensuring South Africa’s recovery as a primary long-haul destination on the African continent We need to congratulate our government for how it has responded to the pandemic and where we are today," he said.

CEO of Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) David Frost said they were thrilled to promote South Africa as the destination of choice.

"We are excited to promote South Africa as the ultimate destination for travellers seeking the open-air, fair weather, low-density tourism which a Covid world demands. To this extent, South Africa’s tourism sector has instituted stringent health and hygiene safety protocols and we are travel-ready to welcome guests safely and in comfort," said Frost.

Chairperson of FEDHASA Western Cape Jeremy Clayton said the reopening of borders fully can help the industry grow.

"We are pleased that the government are following the recommendation of industry partners and enabling an industry that can rapidly grow and provide jobs. By ensuring strict protocols, we can ensure that SA is positioned as a leading global SAFE destination that offers an abundance of tourism opportunities, world-class service and experience," he said.

Source: IOL