South Africa welcomes end of EU Covid Red recording; laments the billion loss

South Africa welcomes end of EU Covid Red recording;  laments the billion loss

South Africa’s tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu has invited the choice by EU nations to eliminate South Africa from red records, however at the same time bemoaned the loss of north of a billion rand in much-needed tourism income during the pinnacle December holiday season. The loss was brought about after huge cancellations since Britain and more than 20 different nations forced a travel restriction on South Africa following it previously reported the disclosure of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus in November.

We remain grateful and open and we appreciate the continued support from various partners across the world, the minister said as she thanked the many partners who had assisted in lobbying for the removal of the red listing.

While these moves are welcomed, it comes after the peak of the tourist season and in the wake of over R1 billion lost in cancelled bookings following re-imposition of travel bans in late November. We welcome EU’s visitors to our country and are assured that their safety is guaranteed, Minister Sisulu said.

This is the culmination of sustained advocacy efforts and dedication of all tourism stakeholders. The war room which we put together is yielding results. Let us continue to work hand in hand to revive our industry, Minister Sisulu said.

The war room comprised key tourism industry associations, including the Tourism Business Council of South Africa; the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA); Southern African Tourism Services Association; Southern African Association for the Conference Industry and Cape Town Tourism, as well as industry stakeholders who had been involved in the previous lobby for South Africa to be removed from the UK’s red list.

Sisulu had set up the war room’ within days of the UK imposing the travel ban barely six weeks after lifting its first red listing of south Africa

European Union member states on Monday agreed to lift the air travel ban on South Africa and other southern African countries, which will allow more travel to resume.

Travellers from the region will still be subject to health measures applicable to travellers from third countries.

European nations had suspended most air travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as scientists scrambled to assess the severity of the omicron variant. President Cyril Ramaphosa called it an unwarranted knee-jerk’ reaction at the time.

The EU and other countries maintained the travel ban even after cases continued to surge around the world, despite an outcry from the region. With the EU and especially the UK being a major tourism income generator for South Africa, the country’s 10.2 million international overnight visitors in 2019 dropped by 70 per cent to 3.2 million in 2020 as the pandemic lockdowns started across the globe. Figures for 2021 are not available yet, but industry players expect them to be even worse.

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