by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – THE local tourism industry has denounced the placing of South Africa and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional member states on various nations’ red lists, effectively banning travel from the African country to foreign destinations.
The restrictions follow the discovery of the new coronavirus variant, now called Omicron, South African scientists.
South African Tourism (SA Tourism) and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) expressed disappointment at the placing of the country on the red list.
Sthembiso Dlamini, South African Tourism, Acting Chief Executive Officer, said the organisation’s short term strategic initiatives and trade engagements in key source markers were starting to pay off as seen in increased in bookings as more travellers wanted to visit South Africa again.
The executive noted over the last few months, SA Tourism also witnessed increased optimism and confidence towards the country with more airlines reinstating direct flights to South Africa and more strategic partners engaging in the promotion of the South African tourism sector.
“We were truly on the right trajectory to save jobs in our industry,” Dlamini said.
“This latest development is certainly going to have a devastating effect on our tourism industry, airlines and business partners,” she added.
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Chief Executive Officer of TBCSA, said the latest travel bans on South Africa were “extremely disappointing” and “premature” considering the limited information about the new variant.
He said while South Africa cannot control the international market, it can control how it handles the crisis domestically, hence TBCSA will support the government to amplify vaccination opportunities.
“Further restrictions will exacerbate an already devastated and ailing tourism industry and will negatively affect various other industries in South Africa,” Tshivhengwa said.
– CAJ News