Call for SA to scrap high-risk list, allow business travel
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Cape Town - The province has urged Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to urgently intervene and “lift the handbrake” on international business travel.
A number of business executives and immigration attorneys have sent emails to the Department of Home Affairs requesting permission to travel for business to high-risk countries and back. There had been no responses since the reopening of international travel on October1.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier, said: “I have written to the Minister of Home Affairs, to request his urgent intervention to ensure that the appropriate resource is allocated so that business travellers from high-risk countries who apply for permission to travel to South Africa at the email address receive a response within at least 24 hours.”
Maynier said the new health protocols and measures could block investment.
“At a time when economic recovery is critical and when there is clearly a high demand for business travellers to visit South Africa and stimulate the economy, it is unacceptable that we are putting measures in place that do not work and unnecessarily block investment,” he said.
Under the regulations, business travellers must request permission from the department to travel from high-risk countries to South Africa. In addition, all travellers are required to produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from the time of departure, supplemented by screening on arrival and antigen testing at the airport, should they fail to pass screening protocols.
There are 57 countries on the high-risk list.
Lobby groups voiced concern, saying the list could have a devastating impact on tourism revenue.
“Our proposed alternative to the risk-based approach for international travel would remove the unfair and unnecessary red tape currently in place to prevent business travellers from visiting South Africa, while also allowing leisure tourists to return unimpeded, bringing the investment we need to rebuild our economy following the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa,” said Maynier.
Tourism Business Council of South Africa chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said: “We have received the same complaints and we have raised them with the department.
“We know last week over 10000 emails were unanswered and we are sure by now that number has doubled. It’s a huge concern, our travel agents have also been in contact with us. We want the government to do away with the high-risk list because it’s illogical.”
Minister of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza confirmed the minister had received the letter from Maynier.
Qoza said the department was working on resolving the issue.