The risk-based approach regulating international travel released by national government last week has created unnecessary confusion and uncertainty in the travel and tourism industry, says the Western Cape’s provincial minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier.
The current restrictions allow business travellers from high-risk countries to enter South Africa with a negative PCR test, but not leisure travellers. Maynier said that this makes no sense and is unfair.
“There is simply no greater risk for transmission of the Covid-19 virus based on the purpose of travel, yet the negative impact of continuing to limit the entry of leisure travellers to South Africa, especially from our key source markets, is severe and extreme,” he said.
“International markets are a key economic driver for the tourism sector in the Western Cape, and so the full reopening of our borders to leisure travellers, with stringent health protocols in place ahead of the summer season is absolutely critical to the sector’s immediate recovery, medium-term stability and long-term survival.”
Maynier said that he has now sent a letter to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma with an attached submission detailing an alternative approach to safely open international travel in a way that avoids confusion and uncertainty.
The submission proposes:
- Doing away with risk-based country categorisation model;
- Requiring all travellers to present a PCR test on arrival, conducted at least 72 hours prior to arrival;
- The PCR test result should not have to be signed by a medical practitioner (In many countries testing is conducted by a lab and results issued electronically);
- Requiring all travellers to download the Covid-19 alert app and complete the tourist locator form to ensure that details of the trip, including accommodation and length of stay, are captured;
- Screening all travellers on arrival at the airport by Port Health officials;
- If a traveller displays any symptoms they will be referred to a dedicated private testing centre at the airport (these will need to be set up), which will be at the travellers own expense. This will prevent the use of public transport to reach testing facilities and therefore will limit the potential spread of the virus;
- Any travellers who test positive will be required to quarantine at an accommodation venue of their choosing for 10 days and at their own expense;
- Paperless processes need to be urgently developed for all visa applications and other home affairs processing;
- Clear and easy to access information needs to be provided on government webpages, which need to be updated regularly;
- Travellers who visit South Africa for business should be permitted to extend their stay for leisure purposes.
The tourism sector is a major contributor to the economy and employment in South Africa and in the Western Cape, said Maynier.
“In 2019 international tourism contributed R81.2 billion in total foreign direct spend – excluding capital expenditure – in South Africa.
“Leisure travellers from key source markets such as the United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands and France make the most of our favourable exchange rate and have a high spending potential which positively impacts our local economy.”
You can read the full submission below.