Tourism businesses have been hit hard by Covid-19. Picture: Clinton Moodley
Tourism businesses have been hit hard by Covid-19. Picture: Clinton Moodley

Flight Centre's open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa: ’South Africans need certainty, Mr President’

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Dec 10, 2021

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Managing director for Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa Euan McNeil has written an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In his letter, he pleads with Ramaphosa to provide certainty that inter-provincial borders will remain open and that South Africans can travel around the country for leisure.

"As we wind down for the annual festive season break, South Africans are once again bracing themselves for another Covid wave; this time fuelled by Omicron, the second variant of concern identified by our excellent scientific community," his letter states. 

"We have been here before. December 2020 brought with it beach bans, stricter curfews and alcohol bans. Six months later, during our third wave largely driven by the Delta variant, leisure travel to and from Gauteng was prohibited.

"Over the past 20 months of navigating the catastrophic impacts of Covid-19, the tourism and travel industry has suffered the collateral damage of these regulations aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19," he wrote.

McNeil, in his letter, stresses that the tourism and travel sector supports a deep value chain. "Many of these businesses operate in peri-urban and rural areas where no other industry operates. Without travel, livelihoods are once again at risk.

"We know there are more uncertainties than certainties with respect to how effective vaccines are against Omicron and the extent to which the variant will impact the load on our health-care system which regulations aim to protect. However, by not providing South Africans with certainty in the run-up to the annual festive season break, many remain in limbo, wary to make their local travel plans," he added.

McNeil added that the "livelihoods of dedicated South African men and women directly and indirectly linked to the sustainability of the entire travel industry hang in the balance".

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