Travel ban: SANParks braces itself for en masse holiday booking cancellations

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  • ThSouth African National Parks (SANParks) is bracing itself for cancellations by international holidaymakers due to travel bans.
  • SANParks says tourists can opt to postpone their visits until the lifting of travel bans.
  • Standard charges would be waivered for those who postpone or amend their bookings.

The South African National Parks (SANParks) says it expects mass cancellation of bookings by international tourists whose countries have imposed travel restrictions to South Africa.

SANParks managing executive Hapiloe Sello said travellers from countries that introduced travel bans would not be charged for changing their bookings until travel bans were lifted.

"Affected clients are welcome to contact our reservation offices to postpone their reservations to later dates. We encourage guests to opt for SANParks to retain their deposit payments until they are certain about their travel plans and to only consider cancellations and refunds as a last resort," Sello said in a statement on Sunday.

READ | Omicron variant: Saffas fear losing jobs, being stranded after flights pulled

Cancellations due to other reasons outside of travel bans would be subject to standard cancellation terms and conditions, she said.

The detection of B.1.1.529 variant, named Omicron, was announced this week by government.

It was detected during genomic sequencing by local scientists. This led to several countries moving to restrict travel to and from South Africa and other African countries, including Botswana, Eswatini and Mozambique. The charge was led by the UK, Germany, Spain and the Philippines on Friday.

The new Covid-19 variant and the latest travel measures were another heavy blow to the tourism industry which was yet to recover from lockdowns and grounding of flights last year due to the global pandemic.

Sello said the country's national parks remained open for locals.

"We want to assure our visitors, particularly local travellers that our national parks remain open and are quite likely amongst the safest destinations to travel to."

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