While the Department of Health’s COVID SA travel system is currently down, and the required online travel health questionnaire (THQ) cannot be submitted by travellers ahead of their departure to SA (from the destination of origin), Port Health Services has confirmed that the hard copy handed to passengers on the aircraft is sufficient.
CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (Barsa), Zuks Ramasia, confirmed this to Tourism Update today, noting that the airline association had also communicated this to all its members to ensure they had hard copies of the THQ on board at all times.
This follows an incident over the weekend when a tour operator’s US clients (inbound to South Africa) were denied boarding because they could not fill in the online THQ. The operator contacted SATSA COO, Hannelie du Toit, for clarity on this issue.
Du Toit told Tourism Update that the inbound industry association (SATSA) was working with the relevant industry sectors to resolve this. She stressed the importance of communication between all parties along the tourism supply chain.
Ramasia also provided assurances that this was a single incident and that it was not a potential barrier to entry from the US or any other source markets, especially as the incoming carriers had been alerted. The tour operator had expressed concerns that other operators may have encountered the same challenges.
Du Toit further advised that operators should notify their clients that the system was down and urge them to contact their respective airlines prior to boarding to ensure that they were in the possession of the correct and sufficient documentation.
“Travellers will also still be subjected to the screening protocols in ports of entry, including temperature screening, and are still required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result obtained not more than 72 hours from the time of departure,” said Du Toit.
All travellers to South Africa are also advised to ensure the validity of their passports. Visa-type extensions to expired passports may not be accepted as a valid travel document. Travellers should contact the relevant authorities or their airline to ensure that they will be allowed boarding and entry.