As of this week, tourists from the United Kingdom can travel to South Africa, which will bolster the sector after it being devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns. The country was removed from the UK’s red list on Monday following a decrease in the number of infections and its drive to get locals vaccinated.
This means that travelling to and from the UK without having to quarantine is allowed. Travel Elegance owner Busisiwe Radebe, who founded the agency in 2011, welcomed the announcement, saying that her business had taken a huge knock during the lockdown. “We couldn’t book any clients to travel and we couldn’t continue with business as usual, so it was a devastating blow especially for us,” she told Vutivi News.
“Being in the travel industry, this is good news because this means the world is opening up and this is giving up hope. If the UK is opening up, then we can only hope that other countries follow suit and that can revive the sector.” South African travel agencies have already reported a surge in travel bookings between the two countries. On average, a UK citizen spends R30,000 in the country which benefits the tourism value chain, including small businesses.
Radebe said: “With the vaccination rollout, we are expecting to recover from the lockdown in the next six months as long as South Africans are compliant and get their vaccinations.” Big business has also welcomed the lifting of the travel ban, although Business Leadership SA CEO Busi Mavuso believed it should have happened sooner. “It means travellers to the UK from South Africa will no longer need to pay for a state-managed 10-day quarantine in a hotel,” she said.
“The change has come late, but probably still in time for the all-important December holiday season when Northern Hemisphere tourists escape their winter for our sun.” Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the move would significantly boost the tourism sector, which was one of the last to open during the local lockdown. “The United Kingdom plays a crucial role in the country’s recovery as an important and biggest source market for tourism arrivals into South Africa. In 2019, the destination welcomed 466,841 British travellers, which was a 1.4% increase when compared to the previous year,” she said.
“We look forward to welcoming our British visitors in time for the South African summer season and we will continue to work tirelessly with all our national and international partners to ensure the success of South Africa’s tourism recovery.”