The South African tourism industry is asking government to remove the ‘red list’, ie the list of high-risk countries from which only business travellers are permitted to enter the country.
On September 30, the SA government announced this list of high-risk countries from which leisure travellers are banned. South Africa’s tourism sector has been heavily impacted by COVID and industry experts say it will not recover without borders fully reopening to our key source markets.
“The mood in the room is pretty sombre but it’s not defeatist. We’re back on our feet again and we’re developing strategies that include a legal element. There’s a very strong PR slant to it and we’re not giving up,” said CEO of MORE Family Collection, Robert More.
According to CEO of Private Safaris, Monika Iuel, the basis on which this list has been constructed has not been provided.
“There is no one point of accountability in all of this. For example, we ask the Department of Health for the science behind the list of high-risk countries and they do not have the science and do not believe that it is their list. If you ask the Department of Transport, it is the same thing, and so on and so on… And so, it is incredibly difficult for us to find a point of contact and a point of lobbying but that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Iuel expressed her frustration during a webinar hosted by SATSA on Wednesday (October 14) as she highlighted that four of South Africa’s top-five overseas source markets were on the high-risk list – the UK, the US, France and The Netherlands.
“There is no public health risk to opening the borders fully, particularly in the context we are in in South Africa where there are still health and safety protocols in place,” said Iuel. She added that, with all international arrivals requiring a negative PCR test, there was no need to exclude countries based on their infection rate.
She said if government took action in time, some of the last-minute bookings for South Africa’s peak summer season could be salvaged.