The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) wants the government to provide them with a “definitive date” to the reopening of international travel.
This comes as STA Travel announced its global closure this week. ASATA revealed that the travel industry made every effort to assist customers to reschedule their travels with little to no compensation since the travel ban was implemented in March.
ASATA CEO Otto de Vries said while they appreciate government’s efforts to implement a risk-adjusted and phased approach to reopening international travel and tourism, the industry is struggling to survive.
“In order for the industry to survive this difficult time, a definite date for the reopening of international travel is imperative. A definite date for international travel would allow sufficient time for airlines to plan the reintroduction of flight schedules to South Africa.
“Travel agents and tour operators would be able to start compiling travel packages for the safe return of travellers to international corporate and leisure travel. To that end, the travel industry has contributed to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s stringent health and safety protocols,” he said.
ASATA revealed that refunds remain a particular challenge for travel agents.
“In many cases, travel agents, as intermediaries between the end customer and supplier, have been unable to recover monies from end suppliers (the airline, hotel, etc.), while they are expected to refund the customer. This has put the travel agent in an unenviable position.”
“Our role as the travel industry is to guide travellers to feel confident once again about their travels. Nothing is more important now for travellers than knowing they can reach out to an expert who can answer their questions with confidence so that they can travel with peace of mind,” added de Vries.