There has been a flurry of media reports saying that South Africa is only opening up to International travel in February 2021. Please, dear past and future clients… this is not true! Instead it is such irresponsible journalism (similar to much of the fake news lately) and as such is potentially so devastatingly damaging to a region, its people and its wildlife that is already having a tough time dealing with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Back in March, the South African government implemented a 5 level risk-adjusted approach to the pandemic based on levels of lockdown, not dates. The announcement by the Department of Tourism that international travel would only be allowed in level 1 which they estimated may only be in February 2021 is what has created a stir and made for juicy and dramatic headlines. But the truth is that the timeline was a thumb suck made in panic at the very beginning of South Africa’s early lockdown.
The facts are that South African Tourism, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBSCA) and industry stakeholders have been working together on a Tourism Recovery Strategy and the outlook is exceedingly more positive than the dramatic articles in the media.
The latest update is that the Tourism Minister has confirmed that if the proposed phased opening approach with all the appropriate protocols is rolled out successfully, then South Africa will open up to international travel as early as 1 September 2020.
We are incredibly positive and encouraged by the collaboration between the TBSCA, South African Tourism, the Tourism Minister, tourism bodies and all the passionate and innovative people in our beautiful industry. It is truly amazing to see how the crisis (and Zoom) has indeed brought tourism people together, and how everyone is pulling in the same direction to ensure that the wheels of tourism start to turn again.
As you can imagine tourism is a vital source of income in Africa. “The loss of jobs and income is already being felt significantly in those communities adjacent to parks and the direct impacts on conservation from reduced revenues and reduced corporate spending, as well as indirect impacts through increased environmental crime, are potentially devastating.” said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO TBCSA.
The proposed phased recovery strategy provides for an initial 6-8 week Preparation Phase, followed by a Phase 1 trial phase where safe source markets with similar risk profiles and stages of pandemic are allowed to travel to South Africa. These travellers would be vetted, all stringent safety protocols would be in place and the focus would be on low-contact product and low-risk areas, traditionally with low density.
In Phase 2, South Africa would further open key markets, expand the experiences on offer, until in Phase 3 air access is opened fully and the destination can restart its longer-term growth strategy. “At the same time, South Africa will have to focus on continuing to create an enabling environment for tourism, which looks at more visa waivers, a robust eVisa system, the fixing of vehicle licencing and permits and air liberalisation,” says Tshivhengwa.
We are here, with our ears to the ground. We have 22 years of Africa travel experience and 22 years of strong, trusted relationships. We are here to answer all your questions and concerns. We are busy! But with less people travelling right here right now we have TIME TO CHAT! Whether you’re postponing your trip or still considering an Africa trip, we’re here, on the ground, eager to show off all the marvellous things that make an Africa adventure the most memorable trip you’ll ever take.
A safari, by its very nature, is the perfect exercise in social distancing. You’re away from the crowds, the lodges will have fewer people per game drive vehicle, dining options will be more personal. So overall you’re getting a more intimate and attentive safari experience.
This is what we have for you : Nature, wild animals, the best local guides, big skies, space, a favourable exchange rate, a sophisticated infrastructure, our attention-to-detail travel planning skills and of course hospitable, caring people who are itching to welcome you back!
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