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SA travellers eye US as another travel restriction drops

Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Published Jun 15, 2022

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Johannesburg - The United States is once again a favourite travel destination for South Africans eager to spread their wings.

With the US lifting the final barrier to entry for travellers - a Covid-19 PCR test a day before travelling to the United States - South Africans are now able to travel more freely to one of their most favoured destinations.

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Global travel search site Cheapflights.co.za said it noticed a 17,5% increase in flight searches to the US from SA after the announcement compared to the same day in the previous week. Flights to New York, especially, saw a notable spike in searches by about 30%.

Additional flight search data analysed by Cheapflights.co.za revealed that the US is the second most-searched-for destination by South Africans wanting to travel abroad this winter - with the UK taking first spot. New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and Orlando seized the top-5 favourites for South African travellers.

“The snowball effect of the incremental relaxation of Covid travel restrictions is paving the way for international travel, and South Africans are hungry to explore the world again,” said Laure Bornet, GM at KAYAK EMEA, which manages Cheapflights.co.za.

“And now, with the US dropping this final barrier to entry, we foresee that more and more searches could convert into travels.”

US-based United Airlines is vying for a route between Washington and Cape Town to complement its already active New York-Cape Town route. Fellow airline Delta Airlines was already awarded a US-Cape Town service in April this year to complete its triangular Atlanta-Johannesburg route.

“This speaks directly to what our data is telling us,” said Bornet.

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“The travel interest between the two countries is on the rise, and airlines are taking note. United and Delta are the only two American airlines currently offering non-stop flights between the US and South Africa, so competition will be high to secure bookings for the higher demand in seats.”

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Another reason for the growing attractiveness of the US for South African travellers might be that it saw the lowest average increase in flight fares compared to 2019. Fares saw an increase of only 1% on average, compared to about 9% increase in fares to the UK.

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“With the price of fuel and cost of living increasing exponentially for South Africans, price is high on the list of decision-influencing factors,” she added. .

The Saturday Star

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