SA organisations rally to get the country off UK red list - but will it work?

South Africa ready to welcome UK travellers-but red list a huge barrier. Picture: ThePixelMan from Pixabay

South Africa ready to welcome UK travellers-but red list a huge barrier. Picture: ThePixelMan from Pixabay

Published Aug 5, 2021


As South Africa fights to stay on travellers' minds following the dismal travel arrivals due to the pandemic, travel industry stakeholders want one of its key markets, the UK, to get out of the red list.

The UK topped the overseas visitor list for South Africa in both 2019 and 2020, Stats SA revealed.

The chairperson of the Cape Town Tourism board, Brett Hendricks, said stakeholders were working around the clock to get UK residents to visit SA and other African countries.

Hendricks said the labelling of variants based on their origin damaged the country's reputation.

Other reasons for being on the red list include concerns around the efficacy of vaccines against the Beta variant, the slow start of our vaccine roll-out and South Africa’s medical status and readiness.

"We are ready to welcome visitors. We just need to get off the red list now. This is why we are throwing our voice and weight behind SATSA on its ‘Red List’ Lobbying Project,” he said.

He said the UK took steps to prevent their residents from travelling to South Africa and other African countries and regions.

David Frost, CEO of SATSA, said there was pent-up demand for British travellers to visit Cape Town.

"The current restrictions make this almost impossible and prohibitively expensive.

"We have been spearheading this campaign since May to provide a credible voice for UK-based politicians on the science, economic impact of the ban and impact to conservation and communities caused by the indefinite inclusion of South Africa on the UK’s ‘red list’.

“The demand for travel to South Africa exists, and as the vaccination roll-out ramps up and South Africa’s spring is around the corner, we are single-minded in our mission to have restrictions lifted in time for the next season," he said.

Frost said all travellers to SA were safe, with world-class health and hygiene protocols in place at every part of the journey.

"We have had over a year of robust domestic travel to ensure that tourism establishments and experiences are ready to welcome visitors to South Africa safely," he added.

TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa told IOL Travel in June that said the negative global narrative in the Red List casts South Africa in a negative light in terms of how the country is handling the pandemic.

"This has a negative effect on tourism attractiveness," he said.