As the global response to Covid-19 nears the end of its sophomore year, the tourism industry in South Africa, ravaged by local and international lockdowns, is finally seeing light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.
< The sector and government breathed a sigh of relief after the UK confirmed Thursday that it had removed South Africa from its “red travel list”.
UK tourists represent a significant number of visitors to South Africa, but the industry, including South African companies like Flight Center Travel Group, also generates revenue from South African travelers traveling to the UK for business, tourism or social visits.
Several industry associations have worked tirelessly to ensure that South Africa is removed from the red list. including the Southern Africa Tourism Service Association (Satsa), the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata), Wesgro and Business Leadership SA (BLSA).
Flight Center Travel Group’s executive director Andrew Stark said Months of lobbying by industry associations, including Satsa and Asata, and lengthy discussions between scientists, President Cyril Ramaphosa and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had led to the decision Such decisions will be made on a sound scientific basis and that travel between the UK and South Africa will be much easier.
“The UK is one of our largest markets as an overseas travel company so this will be a huge relief from a cost perspective. We hope the news will bring more air to the market, ”said Stark.
He said additional flights would give customers more choice, lower prices and improve flight availability.
“The announcement comes just in time for the incoming tourism industry, which supports the livelihoods of more than 1.5 million South Africans. With the peak December season fast approaching, creating and securing these jobs is of the utmost importance.
“There is huge mutual business between South Africa and the UK so this is great news for SMEs and multinational corporations.”
Satsa CEO David Frost called the move “long overdue”.
“This decision is long overdue but will be a huge relief to hundreds of thousands of tourism workers in South Africa, in addition to many Vacation companies in the UK.
“Our UK operators have already seen an increase in inquiries from sun-hungry Brits looking for a winter holiday, and initial estimates are that more than 300,000 UK passport holders are expecting them in the coming Visiting friends and family months or taking advantage of highly competitive vacation offers across South Africa, “said Frost.