Western Cape expresses disappointment at revised travel ‘red list’
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Cape Town - The government has released a revised list of high-risk countries for international travel. The new list indicates a significant decrease in countries from where travellers are not allowed to enter South African borders.
In a statement, the Department of Home Affairs said: “We continue to be reminded that the Covid-19 pandemic is still with us and we need to continue to take precautions. In its last meeting, the Cabinet instructed the ministers of Health, Home Affairs and Tourism to lead a process to review the list. The review of the list of high-risk countries was done in such a way that it strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods.”
The department said that nothing had changed as far as all travellers from the rest of Africa were concerned.
“People from high-risk countries who may visit SA fall in the following categories: business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors, and people on international missions in sports, arts, culture and science.
“In addition, we recognise that there are a number of regular visitors from mainly European countries that have been accustomed to long visits to our country during our summer season,” it said.
The new list now contains 22 countries instead of the 57 previously listed. The announcement follows concerns from tourism lobby groups who have said the list could have a devastating impact on tourism revenue.
Mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos, said: “This unbanning is a step in the right direction for travel and trade. However, it’s not enough.”
Vos has urged government to prioritise allow visitors from all countries.
Recently, several business executives and immigration attorneys have sent emails to 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 October 1.
The department said within the first two weeks that the [email protected] email address had been in operation, 4701 applications were received, mostly from investors in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and tourism. Of these, 3113 had been approved.
The province has, however, expressed disappointment.
Finance and economic opportunities MEC David Maynier said: “We are deeply disappointed at the announcement that the Department of Home Affairs has revised their ‘red list’, which now includes Germany and effectively kills our key source markets for tourism in the Western Cape. International markets are a key economic driver for tourism in the Western Cape, and so the full re-opening of our borders to leisure travellers, with stringent health protocols in place ahead of the summer season, is absolutely critical.”