South Africa may need to follow the European example of opening up tourism in certain regions that are less affected by COVID-19.
So writes the owner of the Suitehotel Zum Latschen Germany, Clemens Gjertsen, in response to the guest author article by SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, in which he said long-haul travel was still a way off.
Here is his full letter:
“We live in Europe (own a small hotel in Bavaria) and faced similar problems.
However, the differences with SA are huge, especially in health care and governmental financial support.
Most European Union countries are open in the yellow code you mentioned. But...as holidays go on, many new COVID-19 cases have showed up as people become less disciplined.
What happens then – and this may be a solution to SA – is to look at a regional policy around the new cases, rather than re-implementing another national lockdown.
As SA is a huge country with strong differences in COVID cases, I could imagine a similar way of allowing international tourism. The far north, Kruger and some other areas, can open in a limited way.
But don't be too optimistic as EU citizens will refrain from travelling outside Europe for the next 12 to 24 months. It is not only the colour code system that determines that but also common sense, as situations change rapidly, travel and cancellation insurances are not or only partly valid when a yellow-coded country changes into orange (yes, the new colour between yellow and red) or even red.
Furthermore, airlines are restricted in reopening routes as they cannot afford near-to-empty planes or cancellations with refund obligations again.
But SA has to start somewhere, as international tourism brings in the majority of the revenue for the travel sector. A more regional policy would help as returning tourists especially mostly make choices to visit only one or two parts of the country. I am convinced that SA Tourism is very capable of maintaining the high standard of hygiene and hospitality they already have.
And I agree: don't allow yourself long quarantines for incoming tourists...it is not conducive to the vacation feeling.”