SA's removal from UK’s travel red list welcomed, but concerns remain
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Cape Town - While industry partners and stakeholders in the tourism sector across Cape Town and South Africa welcomed news that the country had been removed from the UK’s red list, some travel associations remain concerned regarding acceptance and proof of travellers’ vaccination status.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier welcomed the news that travel would be able to resume with one of the Western Cape’s key source markets, after the baffling diplomatic shamble that risked the economic recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector in the province.
“We now look forward to welcoming visitors from the UK back to the Western Cape with the first British Airways flight between London Heathrow and Cape Town International Airport scheduled to resume from November 1,” said Maynier.
To take advantage of the opportunity and the pent-up demand to travel from the UK to South Africa, Maynier said they would invite UK tourism trade and media to experience some of the key attractions in the Western Cape so the destination was front-of-mind for their clients.
Sun International hospitality chief operations officer Graham Wood said: “The busy travel season of November through to March, particularly out of the UK and Europe, will be buoyed by this announcement.
“So this is a real boost for our travel and tourism industry that, as we know, has been decimated by the effects of the global pandemic over the last 18 to 24 months.”
Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) chief executive officer Otto De Vries said the next priority must be to provide clarity on the requirements the UK will impose to prove travellers’ vaccination status.
“A traveller's vaccination status will be increasingly important in the years to come as it will dictate their ability to enter and exit destinations around the world. ASATA has always maintained that once you’re fully vaccinated and you can present proof of vaccination, you should not be required to quarantine or even provide a negative PCR test,” said De Vries.
De Vries said the fact that vaccinated South Africans would be able to travel without the need for quarantine would be a major boost for the travel industry.
“South African travellers must be able to make confident choices to travel to the UK, knowing exactly what the basic requirements are and without having to worry that their proof of vaccination might not be accepted,” said De Vries.
While welcoming this news, Economic Opportunities and Assets Management Mayco member James Vos said calls continued to be made on national government to institute several other key measures that would fully put the tourism industry and economy on the road to recovery.
“The first of these is my ongoing appeal for national government to announce a remote worker visa. Enabling the visa – with specific parameters such as not working for a local employer – would simply require provisions to the Immigration Act for a period longer than three months,” said Vos.
Vos also urged the national Transport Department to heed their call and approve Delta’s request to fly to Cape Town, as the United States was another key tourist market with the majority of American travellers including the Mother City in their itineraries.