Weekend Wrap: Cape sees high of 40°C, OR Tambo tackles congestion, Tourism Month kicks off

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The first weekend of spring has kicked off and if you’ve been out of the loop for the past two days, here are some of the travel stories you might have missed but need to know about.

Winter barely gone and already 40°C forecast for the Cape

Winter has barely bid SA goodbye, with a scorching start to the week ahead - bringing with it extremely hazardous fire conditions to large parts of SA.

The South African Weather Service has issued a warning for most of the Western, Eastern and Northern Capes, saying high fire danger conditions can be expected across the provinces on Monday, 4 September. 

See Monday’s full weather update here

The first week of spring will also see a heat belt across this part of South Africa - with Vredendal as the hottest place in SA on Monday reaching a high of 40°C. The rest of the affected provinces will see maximum temperatures hovering in the mid to late 30s °C.

Fanning the fire warning across the affected provinces, the SA Weather Service warns that strong north-westerly of up to 65km/h can be expected across the southern parts of the Northern Cape, central Karoo of the Western Cape and north-western parts of the Eastern Cape on Monday and Tuesday. 

Added to this no rain has been forecast anywhere across SA, as the City of Cape Town on Sunday announced it would be implementing Level 5 water restrictions as winter rainfall is expected to end in the next three to four weeks. See News24 latest report here

Blooming spring window

Despite the expected heat across the West Coast District this week, it is also one of the most opportune times to check out the Spring Flower Season. 

SANParks' Merle Collins confirmed last week told Traveller24 that "despite lower than expected winter rainfall, another spectacular season is currently underway".  The West Coast National Park boasts an annual flower season until the end of September.

SEE: PICS: SA's West Coast flower season kicks in and it's beautiful! Want to share your spring pics with us? Email info@traveller24.com or tag and message Traveller24_SA on Instagram.

OR Tambo's new passenger link to ease congestions  

International passengers travelling through OR Tambo International Airport during peak times will be relieved to know that the airport has opened a new passenger link to ease congestion at the main security and emigration checkpoints.

OR Tambo, previously notorious for security check-point congestion after the Department of Home Affairs introduced Biometric Data Capturing at the airport in July 2016, has grappled with ongoing congestion especially during busier flight times. 

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) confirmed on Friday, 1 September that moving forward its new Airport’s passenger link for international passengers between Terminal A and the Central Terminal Building is set to vastly improve things. 

“The primary objective is to reduce pressure at Terminal A security and emigration during the peak times and channel some demand to Central Terminal B,” says airport spokesperson Leigh Gunkel-Keuler.

SEE: UPDATE: OR Tambo Airport to get dedicated security task team

Passengers checking in at Terminal A, which is one of the oldest sections of the airport, will now be able to avoid joining queues at the Terminal A security and emigration processing points. Congestion has grown at these points due to strong growth in international passengers in recent years.

Acsa advises that after checking in with their airline, passengers wishing to avoid the security and emigration checkpoints at Terminal A will proceed through the new passenger link to the Central Terminal B security and emigration processing points. 

Directional signage has been put up and airline check-in staff will also direct passengers to the new international passenger link.

Tensions escalate between US and North Korea 

The North Korean Travel Ban kicked in on Friday, affecting some 200 US citizens living under Kim Jong Un's regime. 

Washington's ban on US citizens travelling to North Korea came into force, with the two countries at loggerheads over Pyongyang's weapons ambitions.

Associated Press reports the measure was imposed following the death of student Otto Warmbier in June, a few days after the 22-year-old was sent home in a mysterious coma following more than a year in prison in the North.

He had been convicted of offences against the state for trying to steal a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel and sentenced to 15 years' hard labour, with President Donald Trump blaming Pyongyang's "brutal regime" for his plight.

SEE: US bans travel for Americans to North Korea

On its website the State Department said it took the decision due to "the serious and mounting risk of arrest and long-term detention of US citizens".

Three Americans accused of various crimes against the state are behind bars in the North, which is engaged in a tense standoff with the Trump administration over its banned missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

Earlier this week Pyongyang launched a missile over Japan, in a major escalation, and it has threatened to fire rockets towards the US Pacific territory of Guam.


Isimangaliso bids farewell to CEO Andrew Zaloumis

Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has confirmed iSimangaliso Wetland Park CEO Andrew Zaloumis  is retiring.

Molewa says, Zaloumis will be “completing his studies in Sustainability at Cambridge University, has been an outstanding leader in the field of conservation for over 20 years” recognizing the instrumental role Zoloumis has played in establishing and transforming iSimangaliso Wetland Park into a renowned and world class conservation tourism destination that today occupies prime status as a World Heritage Site.

SEE: #EcoTravel: Tap into nature's healing at iSimangaliso

Minister Molewa expresses her appreciation to Zaloumis, who has received 15 clean audits for South Africa’s very first world heritage site, calling his contribution to conservation efforts "pioneering and development focused".

During the early days of setting up of iSimangaliso, the area was infested with malaria. Zaloumis also implementated the anti-malaria programme that has reduced malaria incidence by 96% in KwaZulu-Natal.

Other successes include a promotion of investments to the tune of more than R200 million in roads, bulk services, tourism accommodation and day-visitor facilities in iSimangaliso.

SEE: Rewilding iSimangaliso: Lions, cheetah and wild dog projects bloom in time for summer holidays

Zaloumis also ensured the restoration of the iSimangaliso eco-system, with the recent reintroduction of game last seen a century ago on the banks of St Lucia; the separation of commercial forestry plantations from the park as a way of ensuring that these two businesses operate without negative impact in one another and the systematic rehabilitation of the Eastern and Western Shores of iSimangaliso.

"All this work in iSimangaliso has translated into positive gains for the local tourism industry. These programmers have increased the number of tourists visiting the area, which has proven to be higher growth in the  Kwa-Zulu/Natal as a destination, both in terms of numbers of domestic and international arrivals, and average tourist spend."

“He is a legend in our lifetime”, says Buyane Zwane, Chairman of the iSimangaliso Board, "I know I speak on behalf of many that in Andrew we have a patriot, professional, and a dedicated South African whose contribution will outlive him and many generations to come. There are many lives that have changed for the best forever because Andrew touched them. We wish you greatness as you venture into an even broader world beyond the confines of iSimangaliso and KwaZulu-Natal to the global stage. You're a hero – go shine!"

Molwea wished Zaloumis well for the future. 


Here’s how you can make the most of Arbor week

National Arbor Week, from 1 to 7 September, is celebrated annually in South Africa, encouraging all South Africans to plant indigenous trees “as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management”.

September marks the start of Spring in SA and is also Heritage and Tourism Month, and with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) spearheading the national campaign for Arbor Week, it focuses on “some of the oldest, largest and culturally significant trees” including the Sophia Town Oak Tree and the Sagole Baobab Tree in Limpopo, which are part of our natural heritage.

ALSO SEE: #SAHeritage: Exploring Khoisan heritage and the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape

Arbor Week affords the public the opportunity to be involved in "greening" their communities by planting trees and creating and encouraging environmentally-friendly human settlements.  Whether you get out and about in nature to plant a tree or join a digital program such as Ecosia, a search engine that “plants trees with its advertising revenue” - make sure you make the most of this week.

SA families welcome new Australian visa for parents 

Parents of expat South Africans living in South Africa, who have been longing to be reunited with their children will be very happy with this development set to come into effect in November 2017. 

A new visa announced by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection is set to take the stresses out of choosing to live in another country for whatever reason, whether for career prospects or peace of mind, while having to leave your family behind, especially elderly parents.

The South African.com reports that the temporary sponsored parent visa is set to allow some 150 000  Saffas living in Australia to bring their parents over for extended periods of time, starting from November 2017.

Although an epxensive process, it is much better than the “existing Parent visa options can take over 30 years to be granted or be very expensive”, according to professional advisory services company, Sable International.

MD of Sable, Sam Hopwood is quoted as saying, “so many people immigrate to Australia leaving their parents behind and these parents lose out on irreplaceable years that could be spent with their children and grandchildren.”

Hopwood says the temporary sponsored parent visa will allow Australian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents to stay in Australia for up to five years at a time.

A cumulative stay of up to ten years is also an option, with the visa renewable outside of Australia.

Tourism month kicks off with a bang  

With September being Heritage Month and Tourism Month in South Africa, and Mpumalanga being the host province, Traveller24 invited the Twitterverse to join in celebrating and discovering the province.

With the school holidays also on the horizon, there couldn't be a better time to plan a spring road-trip - with Mpumalanga's many naturally, beautiful sites sure to be on road-trip bucket lists.  

We discovered some new treats about the province, which saw the most growth in 2016, as well as few new things to love about this part of South Africa. Take a look and Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter - top travel tips and trends for South Africans sent directly to your inbox - subscribe here.

- #FindYourEscape: Mpumalanga meandering

-  #WeDoTourism: A journey down Mpumalanga lane

#LoveSA: Exploring more of Mpumalanga 

 

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