Some Travel Bans Relaxed, SA Still In Talks

South Africa’s Department of Tourism on Friday said it welcomes the return of flights from important source markets after the easing of the latest travel ban.

The announcement last month that scientists in South Africa had detected a new Covid-19 variant – now named Omicron – triggered a travel ban imposed by the UK and other countries.

The department said the UK’s rushed announcement to place South Africa back on its Red List, and France’s placement of South Africa on its new “Scarlet Red” list wreaked havoc on existing tourism and future business.

As a consequence of this knee-jerk reaction, other countries – some of them from Africa – did the same even with the World Health Organization (WHO) officials calling for a show of unity in this time of crisis.

The WHO warned the “apartheid” bans could be divisive.

“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

“Covid-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions.”

Earlier this week, the German government announced that Lufthansa will continue to fly to South Africa and that German nationals may visit South Africa.

An additional number of airlines have eased outbound travel restrictions, a move the tourism department said it welcomes.

The department said Qatar Airways and Air France also announced the resumption of inbound and outbound flights to South Africa.

“At this stage, this arrangement is not yet reciprocal and South Africa is in continuous dialogue with these countries to lobby for the ban to be lifted in full,” said the department.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said: “We will continue to call on all countries to follow the WHO advice, to rescind all selective travel bans and re-open their borders to South Africa. We advocate global solidarity in the fight against the pandemic.”