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Tourism bodies say ‘red list’ must be scrapped

Will damage the country’s reputation among its major international tourist source markets.
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. Image: Supplied

The government needs to do away with its high-risk list or so-called ‘red list’ of Covid-19 hotspot countries or face more chaos around international travel into South Africa.

That’s the warning from major industry bodies the Tourism Business Council of South African (TBCSA) and the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa), following government’s updating of the list on Monday.

Germany, South Africa’s third largest overseas tourist source market, was added to the list after a spike in Covid-19 infections in that country, together with Canada and other nations like Spain and Italy.

Read: Pandemic: Germany added to SA’s high-risk list

The inclusion of Germany and Canada means that leisure tourists from eight of SA’s top ten international tourist source markets are now effectively banned from travelling to the country’s shores. Other major source markets on the red list include the UK, US, France, Netherlands, India and Brazil.

“We are calling on government to do away with the high-risk or red list, because it makes no sense,” TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa told Moneyweb on Tuesday.

“Business travel from countries on the list is already allowed and we see no difference to leisure tourists, who can follow the same Covid-19 rules, such as having a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before arrival,” he said.

“The government reducing the number of countries on the high-risk list [from 60 to 22] is simply not good enough.

“We want the list to be scrapped altogether, because changing the list every two weeks simply does not makes sense and will cause chaos for the industry and travellers,” Tshivhengwa added.

Read: Covid-19 recovery will take years – Tsogo Sun Hotels CEO

“We have seen this already with Germany, Spain and Canada now being added to the list … What happens to travellers who booked during the period that these countries were not on this list and only planned to come this week or in December. They will now have to change their plans,” Tshivhengwa explained.

Satsa CEO David Frost agreed, saying the situation was creating a “dog’s breakfast” with uncertainty and confusion likely to hurt South Africa’s destination brand image especially among its key international source markets in Europe and North America.

“These markets account for around 77% of South Africa’s overseas tourist arrivals. We have to tread carefully as we risk damaging industry relations with these countries,” he said.

David Frost, CEO of the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa). Image: Supplied

“From Satsa’s side we believe that government is handling this whole situation in an appalling manner. They never really consulted with the tourism industry on the technicalities and what needs to happen to reopen international travel to SA in a responsible way that would not hurt the sector’s recovery,” added Frost.”

Read:
South Africa reopens skies to scheduled international flights
Emirates reinstates Durban flights as Covid-19 crew testing issue ‘resolved’

“We have called for structured engagement with government, but nothing has come of it.… Government needs to work in partnership with the private sector of the tourism industry to do things the right way and in the interest and sustainability of the industry,” he said.

“Government does not transact in the business of tourism and doesn’t understand how the industry works, so it needs to work with the sector. We called for a technical task team over three months ago so we could work together in the reopening of SA to international travel,” he noted.

Frost also called for the red list to be scrapped, saying that if locals and tourists from Africa can travel to SA, why can’t tourists with negative Covid-19 tests from key markets like the UK, Germany and the US.

“We are not going to see the whole of Germany come to SA during these times. However, those that want to travel will travel safely and within the relevant health protocols. No one that wants to travel wants to contract a disease – tourists that are open to travelling will take precautions,” he said.

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Agreed. Scrap the list.

Manage the situation!!! Something the ANC does not understand.

Have you noticed that everything the govt does turns to sh one t. It’s almost as if it is delberate.

Motsoaledi has a proud record of being completely ineffectual in all departments that he has been deployed to. Heard him on the radio that they have now “found a simplified method to compile the list”. Methodology is clear: they got the stats on which countries most tourists to South-Africa come from and hey presto, there you have your list!

That is what happens when you have incompetents in power.

IF,Tshifhiwa and his ilk are still asking what happens to those people who have made bookings, then he should be heading nothing, he should be heading home. Because anyone who has made a reservation knows that you call whomever you made a reservation with and cancel, and most places have waived fees due to ‘these extra-ordinary’ circumstances. In this case it is as a result of a government directive for goodness sake! Hallo!
There is actually distainction between business travel (essential) and leisure (non-essential) travel. Just look it up. What is strange is that, they are arguing that this will likely permanently destroy ‘industrial relations’. What a bunch of nonsense? EU countries are imposing these same measurss on each other, for goodness sake and there is no such damage. I don’t see anyone in Europe calling for South African’s to come in droves because failing to travel for leisure will destroy ‘industrial relations’. A better argument is to be honest, prolonged closure will destroy many businesses, and if businesses can show that they will help manage these influx of tourists, there may be a way, but this nonsensical argument is not going to convince anyone of their seriousness amid a global pandemic.

You can’t put profit above people’s lives.

Profit keeps people alive

Greed kills faster than profit.

In which case the country should be permanently locked down, forever, due to 172 people per day dying from TB.

Get real.

You cannot put profits above people’s lives.

@AfricaPragmatist, here’s hoping you have enough provisions to last you and your family forever, seeing how you can’t put your job (=profits) above your life, and therefore will never be able to risk your live sagain by leaving your home, lest you contract Covid19 or TB.

The tourists were negative before they flew. If that is acceptable locally it should be for international as well.

This a catch-22 situation; a deadly embrace. One has to manage the risk.

Tourists must take the COVID test when boarding; and hopefully by the time they land on our shores the results will be available.

What will keep people alive is – enforcing scientific rules, not dictatorial rules.

Lazy people also do not want to follow rules. Yes, profit is not for lazy people.

Anything-but pragmatic: Stop trolling. It’s boring.

@Africa Pragmatist

What lockdown’s global economic impact has done, is to increase long-term poverty amongst populations. And along with that, lower tax revenue collections by Govts…who have to supply state healthcare.

So govts lose, and population getting poorer.

As populations goes poorer, long term LIFE EXPECTANCY DROPS because fewer have access to quality healthcare!

So people DIE SOONER going forward, especially in poorer countries. In wealthier countries people tend to live longer…wonder why? They can afford quality healthcare.

How is Covid-19’s lockdown “good” for everyone, when our life expectancy will drop over time? Please think further than tomorrow.

By now the industry should realize they’re dealing with an incompetent regime, but this is not going to change soon. So what do they do now, given that foreigners will not be filling their coffers this year? To me the answer is to stop gouging the internal tourist market with prices that are affordable in euros, but not in rand. Do I see any intensive marketing effort or price reductions from the industry, aimed at inland tourists, however? Nope. So many of them seem willing to go under, rather than to cater for domestic tourists.

Not all establishments are price gouging, but with costs running for a full 12 months a year, but holiday makers only accounting for a few months in a year, it is extremely expensive to run an accommodation establishment in South Africa.

We run a few places mostly in the Eastern Cape and the majority of our business has been from foreigners. We tried slashing our rates by 25% a few years back to see if that would bring in more locals – we saw an overall drop in occupancy rates of over 30% – with zero increase in local visitors.

It’s a very fine balancing act – if the rates are too low you attract the dregs of society that can cause damage to your property – like guests defecating on the beds, guests taking the toilet seats home with them or bringing in prostitutes that walk around the pool naked. Not exactly the type of guests we really want either.

The ANC will do anything to trash the DA led working better than others WP.

Les police per capita, less housing aid per capita and they will go as far as trashing the whole country just to get to the WP.

Stupid and nonsensical policy. Rather make people obtain a medical certificate from their docs clearing them for travel which must be presented on arrival. Tourism drives a huge part of this economy, which is already on its knees.

A major downside of scrapping the list is that the people employed to compile the list risk becoming unemployed.

So to prevent job losses, one must employ people to make lists.

There’s the rationale. Nothing to do with health, everything to do with politics.

Corona lockdowns are looking increasingly farcical. Regional lockdowns are an ANC strategy to extend the Disaster Management Act with some credibility. The “Great BArrington Declaration” proposes sensible ways to avoid economic lockdown and more social injustice inflicted on the people of SA.

There is no intention to open tourism at the end of the year. The ANC will play ‘cat and mouse’ for as long as they can and use meaningless regional stats to defend a ‘red list’. Such self-inflicted economic destruction already, you would think they would be falling over themselves to help the lives of ordinary South Africans. What a ridiculous situation.

End of comments.

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