by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – THE World Tourism Organisation (WTO) is opposed to travel restrictions imposed against some Southern African countries after the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.
This echoes the concern raised by its members during the 24th General Assembly on November 30 to December 3.
Countries from all global regions expressed their solidarity with Southern African states, calling for the immediate lifting of travel bans imposed on specific countries and for freedom of international travel to be upheld.
WTO also took note of the recent declarations of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General and the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the unfairness and ineffectiveness of blanket travel in respect to the countries of Southern Africa.
In light of recent developments, WTO, a UN agency, has reminded countries that the imposition of blanket restrictions on travel is discriminatory, ineffective and contrary to WHO recommendations.
“Blanket restrictions may also stigmatize countries or whole regions,” WTO stated on Tuesday.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WTO has called for coordinated and evidence-based approaches to balancing public health concerns with keeping the lifeline of tourism intact.
“Over recent months, such an approach has been shown to be the most effective way forward,” the organisation stated.
It noted that travel and vaccination levels were closely connected, as the emergence of new variants facilitated by low levels of vaccination had shown. As such, WTO calls on all countries to act in solidarity to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
This week, South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, expressed disappointment at rich countries who have hoarded the much-needed vaccines.
“The greed that they demonstrated is something that is quite disappointing indeed, particularly when they say they are our partners,” he said.
Ramaphosa was speaking during the seventh session of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in the Senegalese capital.
“The lives of people in Africa are just as important as the lives in Europe, in North America, and all over the world,” he said.
– CAJ News