Cape Town - While the travel sector has been making progress in getting back on its feet, the arrival of the new Covid-19 variant has been the centre of controversial points of view as the UK government reinstated South Africa on the red list.
The Association of Southern African Travel Agents CEO Otto de Vries said the ban had placed the travel firms and travellers at a disadvantage despite vaccines being the most effective way to protect against the virus.
“It’s Groundhog Day for the South African travel industry. The new ban is a knee-jerk reaction of the UK government that puts airlines, hotels, travel businesses and travellers in a very difficult situation.”
“Even though the vaccines are, in fact, the most effective way to protect yourself against the virus, the world will, unfortunately, need to learn to live with Covid-19 variants for the foreseeable future,” said De Vries.
Despite new variants and steamy reactions to the ban, Sun International’s hotels, resorts and leisure properties are still expecting a great end-of-year tourist season.
Sun International’s chief operations officer for hospitality, Graham Wood, said although it was disheartening to wake up to the news that the country was back on the UK’s red list, the majority of the bookings for the season are from domestic travellers, and preparations for a busy season are still ongoing.
“Our hotels, resorts and casinos are all well placed to respect the health and safety of our guests. Our properties are all geared for social distancing, so there is no crowding, and we have stringent Covid-19 protocols in place to protect our guests and staff. At Sun International, we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone over the festive season,” said Wood.
Apart from hotels and agents, Twitter users were not left behind over the controversy.
Twitter user @eric_w_harris said: “SA getting punished for being brave and reporting the variant. We have the best epidemiologist in the world, which is why we detect it first - now we are made to look like the spreaders. This variant is most probably everywhere at the moment.’’
Another Twitter user @EdS_888 said: “If SA did not have alert scientists, unlike other countries, we wouldn't be here. Perhaps SA should stop revealing all these new discoveries because it ends up counting against the country. I am sure there are other countries where this new variant is prevalent, but they’re quiet”.
Challenging the authorities on their stance on the ban, @OdiLosaba said: “SA must also ban flights from the United Kingdom and other countries with high cases of Covid - 19, simple. we need to stop tiptoeing around and start putting our country and its people first.”