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TRAVEL INDUSTRY REACTS ON WHAT UK RED LIST ANNOUNCEMENT MEANS FOR SOUTH AFRICAN TRAVELLERS

SOURCE

Travel Industry

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CATEGORY

Date

07/10/2021

Enquiries

Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group MD 

After months of lobbying by various industry bodies such as SATSA and ASATA and lengthy discussions between scientists and our President and the British Prime Minister, we are delighted by the long overdue announcement that such decisions are now being made on firm scientific evidence – and that travel between the UK and South Africa will now be much easier. 

More than 123 countries around the globe are already open (with varying conditions in place) to South African travellers.  
 
The UK is one of our biggest markets as an outbound travel company, so it will be a huge sigh of relief from a cost perspective. We are hopeful that the news will bring additional air supply into the market. This will be good for our customers giving them more choice and better pricing and availability on flights. 
 
For our leisure travel customers, South Africans can now eventually be reunited with family and friends and will be able to visit them over the December and January holiday period. South African holidaymakers now have much more choice, with many bestselling destinations welcoming us, such as Mauritius and Thailand among others, and with the USA set to open to vaccinated travellers with visas from November. 
 
The announcement comes just in the nick of time for the inbound tourism industry which supports the livelihoods of more than 1.5 million South Africans. With the peak December season fast approaching, creating and safeguarding these jobs is of paramount importance. 

 
There is huge reciprocal business between South Africa and the UK so this is great news for SMMEs and multinational companies.

Oz Desai, Corporate Traveller GM  

The removal of South Africa from the UK red list from 11 October is a game-changer for South African business travellers. Until now, the expensive and lengthy quarantine requirement has been a major deterrent for business travellers. Although clarity is still needed on whether the UK recognises South Africa’s vaccination system, we are hopeful South Africa will be among the 37 new countries and territories of which the UK will recognise the vaccination status.  

London has always been a popular route for both South African leisure and business travellers with Heathrow recognised as one of the top international airports for corporate traffic originating from South Africa. The fact that vaccinated South Africans could travel freely to the UK, which is one of our top business destinations, would likely significantly boost business travel between the two countries. 

Being on the UK’s ‘red list’ has been costing South Africa’s economy more than R790 million every month, or R26 million a day, in lost tourism spend. This is according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). 

The WTTC data showed that every day South Africa remained on the UK’s ‘red list’, the country lost millions of dollars, effectively delaying the global socio-economic recovery. 

Currently there are 123 African or Africa-focussed corporates listed or trading in London, more than on any other international exchange. A great number of SA businesses have also set up headquarters in the UK to tap into the global trade opportunities. For these companies, it’s imperative that a seamless travel regime between the UK and South Africa is re-established. 

The announcement from the UK comes as the South African government launched its much-anticipated digital health certificate system earlier in the week. Fully vaccinated South African travellers can now download their digital vaccine certificates here

Liezl Gericke​,Virgin Atlantic Head of Middle East, Africa & South Asia 

“We expect a surge in bookings once South Africa is formally removed from the Red List, but early indicators are very positive.  LHRJNB has been in the top 5 selling routes in the VS network over the past weekend, with most bookings for travel in December and January; this is a 460% week on week increase, albeit from a low base.  VS currently operates three passenger flights a week from LHR to JNB, and this will increase to a daily service by the end of the year.  We remain committed to Cape Town, and this service will restart in January 2022.”​ 

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