With South Africa in phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out, many seniors are itching to travel beyond the country’s borders.
But are holidays for SA vaccinated seniors a bad or good idea at the moment?
Travel experts suggest that seniors tread with caution when visiting destinations opened for South African travellers.
Jennifer Morris, the owner of Travel Savvy, a travel agency in Durban, said as long as seniors were careful and observed the necessary Covid-19 protocol, travel shouldn’t be an issue.
“Travel is not more or less dangerous than it was a year ago, so it is perfectly acceptable for them to explore new places.
“However, they must understand that having a vaccine doesn’t exempt South Africans from the various travel bans imposed by other countries.
“While the vaccine does go a long way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and ensure that fewer people develop the more severe life-threatening symptoms of the virus, no vaccine is foolproof or a guarantee against contracting the disease or spreading it.
“Travellers, especially the elderly, should still be very careful when they travel locally or abroad. They need to adhere to all Covid-19 safety protocols such as mask-wearing, hand-sanitising and social distancing,” she explained.
Morris predicts that international travel will reopen to South Africans by the end of the year. “South Africa's vaccine roll-out to senior citizens seems to be slow but steady. With more people receiving the vaccine, we hope that travel options for South Africans will open up again very soon. And it is safe to assume that only vaccinated travellers will be allowed to enter certain countries,” she added.
John Ridler, the PR and media manager for Thompson Holidays, said that the company had already seen a steady increase in enquiries and booking from the over 60-year-old South African market.
“While this is symptomatic of the vaccination roll-out and this age group feeling more secure, some are enquiring for dates after they have received their second vaccination,” he said.
Ridler said senior travellers wanted to visit destinations that offered social distancing.
“Both local and regional travel is on the rise. Many of our reservations are for game lodges, beach destinations, smaller boutique style hotels and self-catering where there is greater social distance,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lizeka Shandu, the owner of African Wild Travel, advised vaccinated senior citizens not to travel if local Covid-19 cases escalated.
“Getting vaccinated does not make travel much safer. The risks are not gone. Some people might still get sick even though they received the vaccine.
“Senior citizens should monitor the situation before making any big holiday plans. If they decide to travel, they must be sure to wear their mask and keep their distance from people as much as possible,” she said.
Where can seniors travel
For those itching to get out and about, there were many destinations to choose from. The experts suggest domestic and regional travel and places that do not require quarantine.
Morris said senior travellers should tick off bucket list destinations in South Africa and its neighbouring countries. She recommended Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Kenya and Egypt. “These destinations do not require quarantine,” she said.
Morris explained that senior travellers need to do their research before they make any bookings.
“Some countries like Mauritius have already made it clear that travellers need to show proof of vaccination before they are allowed entry to their destination. Some destinations will require PCR tests and quarantine.
“Research is vital to ensure that you know all the risks before you travel to a new destination,” she said.
Ridler said Botswana, Victoria Falls and Maldives were among some of the sought-after destinations for South Africans at the moment