The Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) says it’s hopeful that the decision by a number of countries to add South Africa and several neighbouring countries to their red list will be lifted soon.

This comes as scientists from across the globe work swiftly to assess the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant, detected in South Africa.

The United States will restrict travel from Southern Africa from Monday.

It follows a similar travel ban imposed by the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Currently, more than 80% of new infections have been detected in Gauteng.

Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa’s National Chairperson Rosemary Anderson says, “Our industry is quite devastated and we really take hope by what the WHO said, that they are cautioning countries against hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the new variant. They rather recommend that there should be a risk-based and scientific approach. They are meeting with experts, we are really hoping that something positive comes out.”

Tourism Business Council on UK’s decision to place six southern African countries on the red list:

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), Otto de Vries, has described the travel ban instituted by many countries on South Africa and other African nations as a massive setback for the travel industry.

This despite the WHO warning against countries hastily imposing travel restrictions, saying they should adopt a risk-based and scientific approach to travel bans.

De Vries says the international community is reacting impulsively.

“ASATA on behalf of the international travel industry is extremely frustrated and disappointed by this latest announcement. This set back with have an immense impact and over the next couple of days, we are going to find ourselves overwhelmed with trying to get South Africans back home with very few if any flights are available.”

“Our take is that, this has been a knee jerk reaction and until there is such time that there is clear scientific evidence that vaccinations as they stand today, do not provide cover or protection against the latest variant, these kinds of decisions should not affect the process.”