Readers mostly welcomed the move by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) to call on government to abolish the need for PCR tests for fully vaccinated international travellers.
In favour of the move were, amongst others, Tourism Update readers Stephen Nielsen and Claire Roadley.
“[This is] urgently needed as this is the main barrier to people traveling. Doing cross-border itineraries in Southern Africa it costs plus/minus R10 000 (€590) for PCR tests for three staff (all fully vaccinated) to accompany an overland tour from Cape Town to Victoria Falls,” said Nielsen.
He added that these costs directly impacted his company’s bottom line as they could not be passed on to clients. “Then to be tested in the middle of nowhere in Namibia and have the risk of staff or a client testing positive – once again all fully vaccinated. This is the biggest fear for clients and puts them off booking”.
He said there also needed to be a consensus on waiving the tests for SADC countries to allow fully vaccinated travellers freedom to travel the area. “If one country does away with it and others don't then it does not make much difference. This is now the last hurdle to tourism booming again!”
UK-based tourism professional, Roadley agreed. “In addition to the cost and hassle of these PCR tests, by SA having that added stipulation for the PCR needing to be administered by a medical professional, it causes so much extra anxiety in places like the UK.
“The PCR tests here (UK) are mostly sent out by post for you to self-swab and pop back in a post box for next-day results. You can get those for about £45-£70pp. Other countries accept this. And they even come with a fit-to-fly certificate.
“Going into an actual testing centre adds a big whack on to the price of the tests. They are more like £150pp.”
The case against it
ZM Schrader, however, added a note of caution: “Currently as we are still in the throes of the pandemic, I don’t agree that we should do away with the PCR testing as yet.
“I personally know of a few people who, after having their second jab, contracted COVID after a family gathering. So the chance of someone spreading the virus is still there.
I know that this affects my business as well, however if we are to survive this pandemic we need to stay vigilant!”