More than 300 000 people in UK could head to SA after red-list removal

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Quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers will resume on 11 October between the UK and South Africa.
Quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers will resume on 11 October between the UK and South Africa.
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  • South Africa’s main inbound tourism industry body says there was an immediate jump in enquiries from UK travellers after the announcement that the country will be removed from the UK red list.
  • The UK government announced that quarantine-free travel between that country and South Africa will resume on 11 October, and SA vaccine certificates will also be regarded as valid proof of vaccination.
  • The CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA urged all workers in the tourism industry to get vaccinated.

More than 300 000 British passport holders could visit friends and family or take advantage of holiday deals across southern Africa after the UK revised its travel red list, according to an estimate from South Africa’s main inbound tourism industry body.

On Thursday, the UK scrapped tough Covid-19 quarantine travel rules for 47 destinations, including South Africa.

The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), which represents 1 350 businesses, said UK operators had already seen a jump in enquiries from "sun-starved Brits looking for a winter escape", just after the announcement.

The UK has traditionally been South Africa's biggest source of international tourists, and the local economy lost an estimated R790 million per month while the country was on the red list.

The UK started to imposed travel restrictions on South Africa in December last year, and Thursday's announcement followed months of lobbying, including a call from President Cyril Ramaphosa to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"We do want to thank the president, the minister of tourism, the minister of international relations and everybody else who has worked on this from the public sector, for the work that they have done. It wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t get involved," CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said. 

He told Fin24 that people working in the tourism value chain now need to be vaccinated and protocols should be followed to avoid incidents that may tarnish the work done to get South Africa off the list.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, James Vos, said the city is ready for British travellers. He plans to contact the Britain’s High Commissioner and Consul General to discuss the city’s plans to attract international travellers. 

Vos also appealed to the government to implement a remote worker visa, saying Cape Town is a favourite location for "digital nomads" with high incomes, and asked the government to approve Delta Airlines’ request to fly to Cape Town.

Quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers will resume on 11 October between the UK and South Africa. South Africa is one of the 47 countries the UK is removing from the red list. Only seven destinations - Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela - remain on the red list.

"From 04:00 [on] Monday, 11 October, eligible travellers vaccinated in over 37 new countries and territories including Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey, will also be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK residents, so long as they have not visited a red list country or territory in the 10 days before arriving in England," said Transport Secretary Grant Shapp.

In addition to its removal from the red list, South Africa’s vaccine certificates will also be regarded as valid proof of vaccination by the UK government from 11 October.

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