South Africa is opening up their international airspace to all countries subject to a number of health and safety protocols
The South African government relaxed level 1 lockdown rules around international travel and tourism, allowing visitors from certain countries who will need to follow health and safety guidelines. In a statement on November 11, President Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured) said that the easing of these restrictions is to boost all parts of the economy to return to full operation as quickly and as safely as possible.
"We are opening up international airspace to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and presenting a negative Covid-19 certificate. By using rapid tests and strict monitoring, we intend to limit the spread of the infection through importation," he said.
The decision, however, has been an intriguing development for the local tourism operators. The timing of the decision is questionable as several key target markets are experiencing a second wave in COVID-19 infections. Moreover, some European countries have imposed second lockdowns, which might prevent potential tourists from visiting South Africa.
For example, England entered their second lockdown on Nov 5th and ends on Dec 2nd 2020. Additionally, some other vital markets that strict restrictions are in place are Germany and France, with both countries re-entering lockdowns in recent weeks. A ban on overseas travel from Australia is also banned. These countries are all pivotal to the success of South Africa’s tourism industry.
Having said that, despite the existing international restrictions from these countries, local tourism operators have praised the authorities' decision to ease restrictions, mainly removing the "high-risk list," which saw travelers from certain countries prohibited from entering South Africa for leisure travel.
"We have been calling for the "red list" to be scrapped from day one, as it was affecting our key source markets for tourism in the Western Cape ahead of the summer season and causing much confusion and uncertainty for travel and tourism industry, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak," said the Western Cape's minister of finance and economic opportunities David Maynier.
Also, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa (right), chief executive of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, had been lobbying with the government to abandon the "red list" as it was unnecessary because travelers had to present a COVID-19 test before entering the country anyway. "We have worked hard with determination and persistence for the sake of the tourism industry," he said.
As the president has just announced, all borders will be open subject to COVID-19 negative certificate for all passengers, removing the high-risk list of countries. Tourism is an essential economic revenue generation to the South African economy that represents 9% of the GDP, while direct tourism accounts for 2.8 percent of real GDP.
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