SA's slow vaccine rollout could have 'far-reaching consequences' on tourism industry
Share this article:
As many countries start to reopen and accept vaccinated tourists to their destinations, travel experts feel the slow vaccine rollout in South Africa may be detrimental to the country's tourism industry.
On Wednesday, European Union countries agreed to ease Covid-19 travel restrictions on non-EU visitors ahead of their summer tourist season, which takes place from June.
According to Reuters, ambassadors from the 27 EU countries approved a European Commission proposal from May 3 to loosen the criteria to determine "safe" countries and allow fully vaccinated tourists from elsewhere.
FEDHASA National Chairperson Rosemary Anderson said the news that European Union countries would ease Covid-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers showed that vaccine passports will open up global travel.
She said the passports would become the ‘new normal' for international travel.
However, it may not bode well for South Africa. Anderson said that South Africa's vaccine rollout should exceed expectations.
"As South Africa is rolling out the second phase of the government’s vaccine programme, it is imperative that our country not only adheres to the dates and numbers of vaccinations but that it exceeds expectations. We need to try and catch up to other major international markets.
"South Africa needs to get in line with governments globally and accelerate the rollout of the vaccine programme to open not only our inbound but also our outbound travel opportunities."
She said that if South Africa is not part of this new travel protocol, inbound and outbound travel would be compromised.
"It would have far-reaching consequences for our country’s travel agents, tour operators, hospitality and airlines and would, in turn, negatively impact on our economy," said Anderson.
The Africa Travel Recovery, Opportunity & Risks Research Brief by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, revealed that for travel to recover in Africa, speedy vaccination rollouts were critical.
The report, written exclusively for Africa Travel Week, found that most countries on the continent lagged behind many "advanced economies". It found that "countries that manage to quickly vaccinate their populations will be in a better position to lift restrictions and stimulate tourism growth".