Readers Please Note: Any information provided below in respect of Covid-19, lockdowns and their regulations, closed or opened borders etc. may have changed by the time you read this. For accurate up to date information, check with your relevant authorities.
Leisure travel restrictions ease – inter-provincial travel now allowed
Pretoria – The government recently announced that South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown had been designated Level 2. That means, at last, that South Africans can now again travel across provincial borders. For some time, limited travel with strict protocols was allowed in game reserves. Now they are fully open again, but still subject to health protocols being observed. Commercial accommodation, restaurants and pubs are all open again, but they have to put various health protocols in place.
South Africa’s tourism industry – a large contributor to GDP and employment – took a huge knock when the country went into lockdown due to Covid-19. Most countries, including South Africa, banned international travel, which is still in force in South Africa. Government admits that the reopening of borders for international travel is a priority, but no indication has been given of when the country will move out of Level 2 of the lockdown or when national borders will reopen. Some in government have indicated this could still be months away. But, according to the Pretoria News, the World Health Organisation emergencies programme head, Mike Ryan, said borders could not remain closed forever and local experts agree that borders here need to open by summer if the tourism sector is to have a fighting chance of recovery.
SANParks welcomes tourism minister’s pronouncement
Pretoria – South African National Parks (SANParks) says it welcomes the announcement made on July 30 by the minister of tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, of the response measures and directions for alert level 3 lockdown as it pertains to the tourism industry. Commenting after the tourism minister’s speech, CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni said, “We appreciate that after four months of confinement, the public is keen to engage with nature, however, we are obligated to ensure that the opening of our national parks for accommodation is done under the strictest health protocols to safeguard both our staff and guests.” Mketeni said SANParks is likely to implement some additional visitor management procedures to ease entry into the parks and further mitigate the risk of the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. He said in due course SANParks will make further announcements regarding the opening dates of accommodation in individual parks “as and when we are comfortable with their state of preparedness to welcome you back. We therefore beg your indulgence as the opening needs to be done in a responsible manner for the safety and enjoyment of all our guests”. As per the minister’s announcement, overnight accommodation is only permissible for residents of the various provinces that the respective national parks are located in. Further details for overnight accommodation protocols will be available on www.sanparks.org.
Wesgro CEO criticises ban on ‘home-sharing’ options for local leisure travel
Cape Town – The CEO of Wesgro, the Western Cape tourism, trade and investment promotion agency, says prohibiting ‘home-sharing’ accommodation doesn’t make any sense. Tim Harris says while he welcomes the lifeline given to many tourism establishments in the province, he remains frustrated by the ban on ‘home-sharing’ options such as Airbnb. Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane recently announced that intra-provincial travel has been opened under level 3. Accommodation for leisure is open, however, short-term rental sharing, such as Airbnb, remains closed. (Please Note: By the time you read this, these regulations may have changed again – check the SA government online portal for the latest regulations). Harris says the announcement is a step in the right direction but warns that excluding home-sharing establishments will have a negative impact on livelihoods. He says the local home-sharing industry expands beyond just tech giant Airbnb, and includes family-run properties in rural and township spaces. These families will not be able to make a living, Harris tells CapeTalk.
Source: Qama Qukula, CapeTalk 567AM
Stellenbosch receives ‘safe travel’ stamp of approval
Stellenbosch – The Western Cape town of Stellenbosch is the first destination in sub Saharan Africa to be awarded the prestigious Safe Travels Stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, designed the special Safe Travels stamp to enable travellers to identify destinations and businesses around the world which adopted its health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so consumers and holidaymakers can experience ‘Safe Travels’. Other popular holiday destinations that comply with Safe Travels standards include Turkey, Portugal and Mauritius.
Walking tours in a locked-down Johannesburg still on offer
Johannesburg – Joburg is a coronavirus hotspot – but you can still walk the streets on a (small) guided tour. You can’t cross provincial boundaries for fun, but tour guides can operate and host walking tours. Some operators in Johannesburg aren’t open yet, but you can take small-group tours of the likes of infamous Ponte City. Also still on offer are walking tours of the city. The masks and other safety precautions have changed things, but people seem keen to get out of the house, unsurprisingly. “You haven’t been to Ponte City until you g et hit by a nappy. Or baptised with water”, says Dlala Nje’s experience architect Gilbert Mwape, glancing skywards during a Johannesburg inner-city walking tour. Under current South African lockdown regulations, tour guides like the mask-wearing Mwape are allowed to work, as tourism is slowly opened up, with in-province overnight stays soon to become legal. (Hiking, fishing, day visits and safari self-drives are also permitted in places such as the Kruger National Park and private estates – as long as the destination lies within the traveller’s immediate province of residence.) Established in October 2012, responsible-travel tour operator Dlala Nje (which means “play” in isiZulu) was one of the first to reopen again in June. Gautengers can join Dlala Nje’s iconic Ponte City Experience, a walking tour that not only highlights the positive side of Ponte but also helps to make surrounding Berea a better place.
Source: Melanie van Zyl , Business Insider SA
Covid-19 aftermath: SAT CEO offers how tourism industry can move forward
Cape Town – South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona in an opinion piece revealed what steps the South Africa tourism sector could adopt post-Covid-19. Covid-19 devastated the tourism sector, with many establishments still closed due to level 3 regulations. Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane told Parliament recently that an estimated R54.2-billion in output may already have been lost between mid-March and the end of May this year. The sector currently faces a potential 75 percent revenue reduction in 2020, with 438 000 jobs at risk. Ntshona believed that to recover, the sector needed to adopt technologies to improve operational efficiencies and serve its post-Covid-19 travellers better. “Expected changes in traveller behaviour post-Covid-19 present an opportunity for smaller and marginalised enterprises to leverage the trends that are anticipated. As visitors want to explore destinations less travelled, avoid crowds and take road trips rather than risk flying there are opportunities for individual travel guides, shuttle services, and one-person operators to tailor experiences to these preferences. Ntshona said the sector needed to be mindful of its responsibility to foster inclusivity and meaningful transformation.
Source: Travel News, IOL
Younger travellers will lead SA’s tourism recovery
Pretoria – As South Africa’s travel and tourism sector contemplates the future, it’s clear that the country will need to appeal to intrepid, adventurous and more socially- and environmentally-conscious travellers – with the 18-34 category at the heart of its post-Covid recovery. The World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) predicts that younger travellers in the 18-35 age group, who appear to be less vulnerable to Covid-19, will be among the first to begin travelling once again. In truth, this group has been flexing their travel muscle for years. According to the South African Tourism 2019 Annual Report, six out of 10 international tourists visiting South Africa in 2019 were below the age of 34 years. With 10.2 million international visitors recorded last year, close to six million fall into the youth category. The domestic report portrays a slightly different picture, with the 18-34 age group accounting for 45.5% of domestic holidaymakers. This is still a significant number – and a group which can’t be ignored. It’s no surprise that youth travel is on the rise. Travel allows young people the opportunity to spread their wings, gain confidence, meet new people, learn new languages, explore different cultures and develop an entirely new outlook on the world. They’re a formidable group – with money in their pocket.
Source: Tim Louw, BizCommunity
Explore KZN with these 3 virtual tours
Durban – KwaZulu-Natal tourism businesses recently joined forces to host three-day virtual familiarisation tours to showcase the main tourist attractions of the province. KZN hotels, travel agents, game reserves, holiday resorts, transport providers and other businesses within the tourism industry lost an exhibition platform when the annual tourism trade show Africa’s Travel Indaba, which was to be hosted in Durban in May this year, was cancelled. The initiative was organised by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) and Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) to help tourism industry players to market their tours and activities virtually in readiness for the opening up of leisure travel. Tourism KZN and SATSA partnered to host up to 75 buyers from across South Africa. Through the events, 45 KZN products had the opportunity to virtually showcase a variety of accommodation, scenery, activities and food offerings. These included exploring Durban, North Coast, South Coast, Midlands, Drakensberg, Battlefields, and the Elephant Coast.
Source: Travel, IOL
A new Africa trade show will connect agents with tourism suppliers virtually
Johannesburg – A new virtual Africa trade show has been launched to connect global buyers with tourism products on the continent. OurAfrica.Travel 2020 aims to connect African suppliers, such as hotels, lodges, activity operators and inbound operators, with global travel advisors via prescheduled one-on-one, face-to-f ace meetings online. The show has already signed up 150 exhibitors from countries across Africa, including some well-known names like New Frontiers, Escape & Explore, Wilderness Safaris, Triumph Travel, Singita, Red Carnation Hotels, Jamala Madikwe, Mosaic Lagoon Lodge, Onguma, Chiwani Safari Camps, Time+Tide and Rovos Rail. Travel advisor participation in OurAfrica.Travel 2020 is free. Once an agent signs up to participate, they are admitted to the virtual platform and can begin networking with exhibitors. Advisors can begin setting up their 15-minute meetings on the site on August 1. The virtual travel show takes place across three different geographic regions and within three different times zones. In the U.S. and Canada (as well as South America), meetings will take place from Aug. 17 to 21 from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Eastern time.
Source: Dorine Reinstein, Travel Weekly
Rwanda reopens airports to travellers
Kigali, Rwanda – Rwandan airports recently reopened to international travellers, more than four months after the central African nation suspended commercial passenger flights to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak. The suspension didn’t affect cargo and emergency flights. Tourists travelling by charter flights had been allowed to enter the country that is famous for mountain gorilla tracking since June 17. Rwandan national flag carrier RwandAir, which flew to 29 destinations across 24 countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia before it suspended passenger flights on March 20, on Saturday resumed with a flight from Kigali International Airport to Dubai, while Kenyan and Ethiopian Airways made flights to Kigali, Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete told Xinhua in a phone interview.
Source: Nyawira Mwangi, CGTN Africa
Kenya also reopens airports to travellers
Nairobi, Kenya – The Kenyan government has released the list of countries from which travellers will be exempt from going into quarantine once they arrive. International flights have resumed four months after they were suspended in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All travellers will have to pass a temperature test on arrival, and they need to prove that they have been tested for the virus within 96 hours before travel. The 18 quarantine-exempt countries include the UK, France, Italy, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda. The US is also on the list, but people coming from California, Florida and Texas will not be exempt from quarantine. This will be welcome news to people working in Kenya’s big tourism industry as the ban on international travel has left resorts nearly empty.