There have been recent media articles published widely around the world that have referred to South Africa’s inbound tourism only opening again in February 2021, which simply is not factually accurate. We would like to correct this by highlighting several details of the phased data-driven approach to reopening our borders to leisure travel.
1. South Africa have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic on a risk adjustment strategy, meaning that we can only move from one phase to the next based on epidemiological statistics and empirical data. Therefore, a date cannot be given as to when inbound tourism will open again as the spread of the disease changes daily. The levels vary from 5 to 1 (where 5 is the strictest and level 1 having the least restrictions). We have already successfully moved from level 5 to level 3.
2. There is a Joint Recovery Strategy currently being developed by South African Tourism (SATOUR) which the articles failed to report on. SATOUR is a working committee – including private-sector tourism stakeholders in collaboration with TBCSA (Tourism Business Council of South Africa) and SATSA. The committee has put forward a data-driven recovery plan with due regard for the spread of the virus and the health and safety of both citizens and visitors. Proof that the risk adjusted strategy has already been put into practice, following successful lobbying to government by this committee, is that business travel is already opened although it was originally due to do so from level 2.
3. TBCSA is confident that the country will potentially see international tourism opening as early as September 2020 and has presented its approach and clearly defined protocols at a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee meeting on the 9th June 2020.
4. South Africa have the benefit of observing and learning from the global best practices. This can be based on many of our source markets opening their borders for travel after their own Lockdown periods. We can then use this information to develop a more concrete plan, based on what has been successful and what needs to be improved.
5. The protocols define the parameters and timelines for the reopening of international tourism, and are aligned with the latest World Health Organisation, National Institute of Communicable Disease and Department of Health Guidelines. They have also been approved by the Department of Tourism. Further information on the phased recovery strategy, please refer to the TBCSA release dated 4 June 2020 (TOURISM SECTOR LOBBIES FOR EARLIER PHASED SAFE REOPENING OF INTERNATIONAL INBOUND TOURISM TO SOUTH AFRICA).
We hope that the information above will support you in protecting your business, and therefore people and communities dependent on tourism. Please watch the recording of the webinar (hosted by TBCSA) which discusses Risk Adjusted Tourism Recovery Strategy in huge detail by clicking here.
If you’d like to help by spreading the word, we encourage you to share the TBCSA release and Friday afternoon’s webinar with your clients and contacts.
Should you have any issues or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.