Landing in Covid-19 red list could be dangerous for SA, says South African Tourism
SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona said that South Africa needed to ensure that it does not make the “red list” of any country, which could hinder international travel when the country decides to open borders.
Many countries that have eased travel restrictions use a colour-coding system that classifies other countries into three zones, red, yellow and green, depending on their coronavirus risk.
These classifications determine who countries let in and travel to.
Countries falling under the green list are deemed “safe”, those in the yellow category are allowed in with some precautionary measures while those in the red category, are considered “unsafe.”
"The colour-coded system is a big factor for travellers looking for destinations to explore, " Ntshona said.
"We need to make a collective effort to ensure that South Africa does not land up on the “red list” of any country, particularly not our key source markets.
We are currently in the top 5 of countries with the most Covid-19 cases, which puts us at risk of being classified as unsafe to travel to whether for business or leisure," he said.
Ntshona said Germany has listed South Africa as a red country.
"This proves as a challenge as it is one of our key source markets with 322 720 tourists having travelled to our country in 2019 alone."
He said the greatest risk to travel and tourism recovery is the spontaneous imposing of restrictions, particularly a 14-day quarantine on travellers to and from countries.
"A surprise quarantine is clearly the number 1 deterrent of travel beyond domestic, " he said.
He said between mid-March and the end of July 2020, the sector may have lost an estimated R88.8 billion in output and 438 000 jobs are at risk.
But, with Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane allowing intra-provincial leisure travel under new level 3 regulations, it could help assist the travel sector and save jobs.
Ntshona said the South African tourism sector has done a great job at putting in place health and safety protocols, a move that goes a long way to boosting traveller confidence.
"As we push for the gradual reopening of the tourism sector, we must remember our collective responsibility to slow down the rate of infections. What are the implications of these heightened infection levels on the propensity to travel?
Intra provincial leisure travel is now allowed, and this is indeed another victory for the sector, locally.
However, long haul travel is still some time away. The changing patterns in the spread of Covid-19 make it harder to predict what lies ahead, " he said.