The Tourism Business Council of South Africa has welcomed the United Kingdom’s decision to remove South Africa and ten other African countries from its “red list” of travel restrictions.
The other countries are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The countries were put on the red list last month as a precaution after scientists in South Africa identified the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Council CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa says they hope the bookings will start increasing in the next couple of days.
“It is welcomed news although a little bit too late in terms of bookings that have been cancelled. We are hoping that in the next 24-48 hours we will see some action in terms of re-bookings, and also some action from airlines reinstating some of the capacity that they had taken off, and hopefully we will see even more people trying to travel between the countries.”
Impact on the local economy
Just last month, Western Cape tourism authorities lamented the impact that travel bans have on the local economy.
Thousands of overseas tourists flock to the Mother City yearly but numbers have declined by almost 73% in 2020 compared to the previous year.
The City of Cape Town says prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector contributed over 7% to the provincial GDP and created 113 000 direct jobs.
Western Cape tourism laments travel restrictions:
Meanwhile, South Africa’s torism industry has lost almost a billion rand in booking cancellations since the discovery of the Omicron variant.
SA loses billions in booking cancellations: