Pretoria - The South African National Parks (SANParks) has announced that it would not be charging fees or penalties for international tourists that cancel their visit to any of its facilities after SA was put on the travelling red list.
The travel bans to South Africa were imposed last week by several countries, including the UK, the US, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Brazil, because of the discovery of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant, devastating the country’s tourism industry ahead of the summer holidays.
The new variant has been detected in South Africa as well as a number of other countries.
Although there has been a spike in the number of the coronavirus infections due to the Omicron, SANParks said that all its parks would remain open, and were safe to visit.
SANParks is in charge of all the country’s national parks, including the world-renowned Kruger National Park, and one of the seven wonders of the world, Table Mountain, in Cape Town.
During this time of the year, the country is usually taken over by tourists from all walks of life, coming to enjoy the parks, investing millions of rand into the South African economy.
According to SANParks’s managing executive of tourism development and marketing, Hapiloe Sello, the entity is bracing itself for mass booking amendments from residents of various countries across the world.
She said the developments called for a proactive approach to minimise adverse impacts on clients.
“We have decided that booked clients from the countries that have introduced travel bans to South Africa will not be charged fees or penalties for amendments and postponements for a 12-month period, from November 26 until such time as the travel bans are lifted.
“Affected clients are welcome to contact our reservation offices to postpone their reservations to later dates,” Sello said.
“We encourage guests to opt for SANParks to retain their deposit payments until they are certain about their travel plans, and to only consider cancellations and refunds as a last resort.”
She said cancellations due to other reasons outside of travel bans will continue to be subjected to the standard cancellation terms and conditions.
“We want to assure our visitors, particularly local travellers, that our national parks remain open and quite likely amongst the safest destinations to travel to,” Sello said.
Yesterday, the Pretoria News reported that Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was making efforts diplomatically to get the country removed from the red list.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been pleading with the countries that have put SA on the red list to reverse the decision.