South African tourism industry react to SA being cut from UK red list. Picture: Skitterphoto/Pixabay.
South African tourism industry react to SA being cut from UK red list. Picture: Skitterphoto/Pixabay.

Surge in UK bookings to South Africa following red list cut

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Oct 8, 2021

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Months of lobbying by the South African tourism industry has paid off as the country and 46 other destinations will be off the red list from Monday, October 11.

The news, a big win for the South African tourism industry and families between both destinations, has seen a surge in UK bookings to South Africa ever since reports that the latter would be cut from the red list.

David Frost, the CEO of SATSA and someone who has been vocal about the impact the red list had on tourism in South Africa, said UK operators have already seen a surge in enquiries from Brits.

“This decision is long overdue, but it will come as a huge relief to hundreds of thousands of tourism workers in South Africa, in addition to scores of holiday companies in the UK. Our UK operators have already seen a surge in enquiries from sun-starved Brits looking for an escape. Early estimates suggest that upwards of 300,000 British passport holders expect to visit friends and family or take advantage of highly competitive holiday deals across Southern Africa in the coming months," he said.

Rosemary Anderson​, FEDHASA National Chair, said the SA tourism and hospitality sector will enjoy a significant boost now that the country is removed from the list.

"With our largest source market being open to travel which in turn means a boost for job security and livelihoods. Prior to Covid, some 440,000 British travellers visited South Africa. The news that they have once again been given the green light to travel to South Africa without the onerous requirement of having to quarantine in a government-designated hotel on their return bodes exceptionally well for us," she said.

Anderson said South Africa has the perfect tourism and hospitality ingredients to position itself as one of the world’s top international travel destinations.

"Focussing on buoying tourism, we could triple the number of visitors who visit our spectacular shores, thereby creating millions of more jobs in our sector. Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has assured our tourism sector that she is very willing to join hands with us and market South Africa like it has never been marketed before. United as one Team Tourism, we can achieve significant job creation in our tourism and hospitality industry and become the silver bullet South Africa needs to make a significant dent in the country’s unemployment crisis," she added.

Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group MD, said the announcement came in the "nick of time for the inbound tourism industry".

"After months of lobbying by various industry bodies, we are delighted by the long-overdue announcement that such decisions are made on firm scientific evidence – and that travel between the UK and South Africa will now be much easier.

"The UK is one of our biggest markets as an outbound travel company, so it will be a huge sigh of relief from a cost perspective. We are hopeful that the news will bring additional air supply into the market. This will be good for our customers giving them more choice and better pricing and availability on flights.

"For our leisure travel customers, South Africans can now eventually be reunited with family and friends and will be able to visit them over the December and January holiday period. South African holidaymakers now have much more choice, with many bestselling destinations welcoming us, such as Mauritius and Thailand among others, and with the USA set to open to vaccinated travellers with visas from November," he explained.

Graham Wood, the group COO of hospitality at Sun International, said the decision allows UK travellers the opportunity to book their year-end trips to South Africa.

"The busy travel season of November through to March, particularly out of the UK and Europe, will be buoyed by this announcement. This is a real boost for our travel and tourism industry. With domestic travel also picking up, our hotels are looking forward to a good end of year season.”

“The UK contributed 5.79% of our total room revenue and 14.26% of international room revenue in 2019. The UK is our number one international source market," he said.

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