The tourism sector is set for a major recovery thanks to the resumption of quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers between South Africa and the United Kingdom from Monday.

Close to half a million UK tourists are expected to hit our shores this summer following the removal of South Africa from the UK’s infamous red list of countries on Friday.

UK red list lifting a boost for SA’s tourism:

The goose that lays the golden egg. Before the pandemic, tourism used to generate around R120 billion a year for the South African economy. Creating more jobs than agriculture, mining and the automotive industry.

Needless to say, the tourism industry has been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions here at home and abroad, leading to business closures and massive job losses.

But that’s all about to change thanks to the latest relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions to Alert Level 1 Lockdown and the removal of South Africa from the much dreaded UK red list of countries.

With COVID-19 vaccine passports increasingly becoming a standard requirement for travel worldwide, Managing Director of SA Flyer magazine Guy Leitch says the local tourism industry and the economy, in general, could benefit a lot if greater numbers of South Africans get vaccinated.

The aviation industry is also set for a major lift.

Leitch, however, says all of these don’t mean anything good for SAA as yet, as the airline is only planning to launch long-haul flights in the middle of 2022.

Leitch says, “SAA will not be able to get in on the action early, which means British Airways, that is planning to reintroduce the much loved Airbus A380 superjumbo, and Virgin and Lufthansa and other airlines will be making hay while the sun shines and will be busy eating SAA’s lunch. [Those airlines] will be bringing tourists here.”

It’s estimated that around 23 million South Africans derive their livelihood from income generated by the tourism sector.