News Articles

High hopes as US revises SA’s risk status

Source: Tourism Update, 09/06/2021

The inbound travel trade celebrated today (June 9) following news that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has moved South Africa from risk alert Level 4 to Level 3.
This follows the landing of the first daily United Airlines flight from New York Newark to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo on Friday (June 4).
The CDC has eased travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories, including moving 61 countries from Level 4 to Level 3. This risk-level rating recommends travel for those US citizens who have been fully vaccinated.
According to a Reuters news agency report, the US State Department said many countries had lower ratings `because of the criteria changes or because their outbreaks are better controlled”.
MD of Cape Xtreme Adventure Tours and Cape to Addo Safaris, Barry O’Donoghue, told Tourism Update any move to a lower risk rating would instil confidence in prospective travellers for a destination. “Those who were previously cautious will be more reassured,” he said.
O’Donoghue is currently running three- to five-week adventure tours in the Garden Route for a group of over 200 students from the US. “Some are back home already without incident and they were all highly impressed with the high standards of health and safety protocols,” he said.
Most of the group had been vaccinated but the PCR tests and the protocols practised had given them all peace of mind, O’Donoghue added, highlighting that the success of the US vaccination roll-out would encourage more travel from the US.
Onne Vegter, MD of Wild Wings Safaris, agreed with this assessment, noting that a recent group of US tourists he hosted had also commented on the stringent enforcement and compliance of these protocols by all travel suppliers.
“One woman told me she felt safer in South Africa than she did in the US because we had such strict protocols ensuring her safety.”
He told Tourism Update that most of the enquiries he had had to date were from the US and most of the tourists he had hosted since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic were from the States.
“I expect this to increase with this latest announcement,” said Vegter, adding that United’s new direct daily service to Johannesburg was another competitive advantage. “The Qatar flight via Doha was always full and many have now moved their flights via Europe to the United flight.”
O’Donoghue noted that for his group it was a challenge that there were no direct flights to Cape Town, which meant a lot of juggling and additional expenses but they managed with a few from Europe.
And, Vegter added, another major advantage for the US market was that there was no quarantine imposed on travellers arriving back from South Africa.
‘There is still scope for improvement around the narrative’
While O’Donoghue noted that there also seemed to be less concern about the new variants than there was in other key source markets, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, did express concern that the US State Department was using the same narrative for South Africa as it did for Alert Level 4.
The US State Department advisory reads: “Reconsider travel to South Africa due to COVID-19. Exercise extreme caution in South Africa due to increased crime and civil unrest.”
Tshivhengwa told Tourism Update that while there was crime in South Africa, very few tourists had been directly affected. “Plus, we have invested a lot into addressing this issue and will continue to do everything possible to keep tourists safe.”
According to him, crime is also driven by socio-economic conditions that arise when jobs are lost in a key economic sector such as tourism. “We need tourists to create jobs and the more jobs we can create the lower our crime rate will be.
“So the narrative has to change to instill further confidence in Destination South Africa.”
Tshivhengwa said there was ongoing engagement with the US Embassy, who would advocate for South Africa’s risk level rating to be further reduced and for the narrative to change.
www.samigration.com


Search

  •    The home affairs ministry has urged the public to delay application for national documents ` due to rising Covid-19 cases ` that are not urgent. The ministry has over the past three weeks recorded 10 positive Covid-19 cases among its staff at different offices countrywide.... Read more...
  •    The inbound travel trade celebrated today (June 9) following news that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has moved South Africa from risk alert Level 4 to Level 3.... Read more...
  •    The extension will be done automatically and at no cost to the visa holders On Tuesday, King Salman has directed authorities in Saudi Arabia to automatically renew the validity of residence permits (Iqama), exit and re-entry visas of expats stranded abroad until July 31, 2021.... Read more...
  •    Citizens of Cyprus, Sweden, and Lithuania can now enter Portugal without being obliged to follow quarantine rules upon their arrival, as the latter’s authorities have lifted such a measure for these three countries after estimating that they have recently reported fewer COVID-19 cases of infection.... Read more...
  •    • The Netherlands has announced that flights from South Africa will be allowed to resume, with travel exemptions offered to non-EU residents. • Although most South Africans still won`t be able to enter the Netherlands due to an ongoing EU ban, students, key workers, and those with compelling family reasons will be allowed to travel.... Read more...
  •    An employee at the AG`s office has been arrested. Getty Images • A general manager at the office of the Auditor-General in Pretoria has been arrested. • He allegedly offered a Home Affairs official a R3 000 bribe. • According to the Hawks, it emerged that his ID card and his daughter`s birth certificate were fraudulent.... Read more...
  •    An employee at the AG`s office has been arrested. Getty Images • A general manager at the office of the Auditor-General in Pretoria has been arrested. • He allegedly offered a Home Affairs official a R3 000 bribe. • According to the Hawks, it emerged that his ID card and his daughter`s birth certificate were fraudulent.... Read more...
  •    Rights groups, UNHCR and EU criticise move, which some fear will have a domino effect and see other nations opt out of responsibilities.... Read more...
  •    Crisis to come at a head at the end of June and July, when applications for visa renewals are submitted A child waits in line at a department of home affairs office.... Read more...
  •    Politcal parties raised concern of the problem of long queues where often people are turned away because the system is offline. Minister Aaron Motsoaledi came under fire from some opposition parties in the National Assembly for what they say is the chaotic state of the Home Affairs department.... Read more...

Get the latest Immigration News