East Africa is getting closer to the full reopening of its tourism, services and aviation sectors this week following the review of the UK’s controversial Red List, which has nearly stopped travel and slowed trade and tourism on the continent in the past 10 months British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that the cancellation of 47 countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, would take effect at 4 a.m. on November 11 October, a “big step forward” for. be the UK travel industry.
Removal from the Red List means people arriving from these destinations will no longer have to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £ 2,285 ($) per traveler.
But unlike other countries in the region that have to wait for their vaccination certificates to be recognized by the UK, Kenya will benefit directly from the lifting of restrictions as the UK now recognizes its vaccination certificates.
“We are pleased to announce that from Monday October 11th, people vaccinated in Kenya can travel to the UK without quarantine or take a Covid-19 test before departure. Thanks to our strong partnership with the Ministry of Health, we have completed the process of recognizing vaccination certificates from Kenya, “the British High Commission said in a statement to Kenya.
The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Najib Balala, assured international tourists that that Kenya invested heavily in the vaccination campaign to resume tourism.
“We cannot ignore the international market as it has its dynamism and its advantages. We have invested heavily in tourism in the domestic market, Kenya has a thriving domestic market. Kenyans have supported the sector, but we need to revitalize the international market, “said Mr Balala.
This means that while Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been removed from the red list, However, travelers from these countries are required to have Covid tests prior to departure and upon arrival, as well as self-isolating for 10 days upon arrival as the UK is not yet recognizing their vaccination certificates.
UK officials said The East African that their government conducts a systematic quality assurance audit before vaccination certificates are recognized. The process is ongoing and the list of accepted vaccination certificates will be updated based on the result of the review.
Despite the hurdle in the recognition of vaccination certificates being overcome, the review of the red list is expected to take place in the coming weeks. and build business confidence.
The UK recognizes vaccination certificates from 37 countries including Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa ca and Turkey.
A few hours after the UK Red List proclaimed major airlines announced the reintroduction of flights, including increasing frequency to major tourist destinations in Africa, including South Africa.
For example, in Rwanda, optimism is high that the country is now can finally host the meeting of the Commonwealth of Heads of Government, which has been suspended twice due to the pandemic.
Your national airline – RwandAi r – which recently signed a code of conduct – share agreement with Qatar Airways will benefit as the London route remains important for Rwanda’s exports and transit passengers to and from Europe.
“It’s a great relief The fact that Rwanda was removed from the Red List, the bugging we suffered this year, had its roots in the bias that Rwanda was a Covd-19 hotspot. “
” That gives us confidence, the challenges we have faced will diminish, “said Robert Rukundo, the president of Rwanda Horticulture Exporters Association and an exporter to the UK.
That decision is expected to be the region whose economy is becoming still suffers from Covid-19 bans and restrictions on the movement of people and goods, gives new impetus.
In particular, the tourism, aviation and service sectors in the region are expected to benefit from the lifting of the Be Restrictions before the Christmas season.
While definitive figures on how the Red List has affected the regional economy have yet to be released, travel restrictions have hit the tourism, aviation and service sectors hard as tourism-heavy countries missed traditional British arrivals during the peak of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer vacation.
Not only has the Red List separated families, but has also undermined academic and professional exchanges between the region and the UK The British were reluctant to travel, because they feared mandatory quarantine when entering or passing through a Red List country.
Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were on first placed on the Red List in January of this year, and later Kenya and Uganda were added after a severe third wave of Covid-19 hit Reg ion.
That could all change after the region was removed from the Red List as international tourist traffic rebounded.
But the list has gotten one in recent months Great diplomatic dispute between the countries and Britain sparked, with the majority asking the British government for explanations on the “arbitrary decision”.
And despite intense lobbying by African diplomats, the UK has claimed the list is necessary to curb the spread of new variants. It is also said that countries in the region have limited capacity for genome sequencing tests, which increases the risk that new variants will not be detected.
Additional reporting from Moses. K. Gahigi, Luke Anami, Anthony Kitimo and Ange Iliza.