Cape Town - Despite the numerous efforts and a widely available vaccination programme across the country, the UK will be keeping South Africa on its red list under its revised travel rules.
With peak tourist season just weeks away, industry partners and stakeholders across Cape Town and South Africa will be engaging to pressure the UK government into reversing this decision.
In a statement the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said the news was shocking considering SA’s progress in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, which was evidenced by the rapid decline in infection rates due to their robust vaccination programme and science.
Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor said they were currently working with other stakeholders to intensify efforts to have South Africa removed from the list and was optimistic the UK government would realise their decision was not only harming the tourism industry but businesses from both countries.
South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) chief executive officer David Frost said they were extremely disappointed in the news after leading petition and lobby efforts against SA’s status on the UK red list which restricted travel and required returning British or Irish nationals to endure a costly 10-day quarantine.
Frost said the UK appeared to be concerned with the presence of the Beta variant and other Covid-19 variants in SA, despite the fact that since SA entered its third wave, Covid-19 cases were almost 98% Delta variant so there was no Beta threat and all threats about Beta were a red herring.
Frost said when looking at the statistics, it was four times more likely to contract Covid-19 in Cornwall than in Cape Town.
“This is a kick in the teeth for 1.5 million South African tourism workers who were relying on UK visitors this spring. There isn’t a shred of scientific evidence to support keeping South Africa on the red list and the only conclusion left is that the UK government has an irrational fear of South Africa which is prejudicing decision-making.”
The City’s Economic Opportunities and Assets Management Mayco member James Vos said the UK was their biggest single tourist source market and experts estimated the local economy was losing around R26 million in revenue every day these travellers were turned away.