New rules for travel, weddings, and accommodation in South Africa

The Department of Tourism has published an updated set of norms and standards to ensure the tourism sector’s safe operation during the country’s state of disaster.

The document’s objective is to introduce minimum universal practices that the sector will follow to prevent the spread of the Covid-19. The policy assumes that it will be some time before the pandemic subsides and aims to assure local and international travellers that South Africa’s tourism industry is sufficiently equipped to deal with the coronavirus.

The guideline applies to several sectors, including:

  • Tourism establishments;
  • Short-term rentals;
  • Events;
  • Weddings;
  • Meetings;
  • Exhibitions; and
  • Accommodations.

While each sector has different requirements, the document indicates that the expectations are essentially the same – focusing on staff preparedness and providing a safe experience.

Staff and hosts preparedness

A person in charge of accommodation must:

  • Train the host and staff on the health and safety protocols, in line with the latest local and international health guidelines;
  • Outline to staff and the host cleaning, infection control and disinfection processes on safety measures, including frequent sanitising and hand washing;
  • Encourage the use of electronic payment methods on check-in and check-out, where possible; and
  • Develop an action plan outlining the process of handling Covid-19 cases.

Safe experience 

A person in charge must:

  • Adopt enhanced frequent cleaning, sanitisation and disinfecting measures;
  • Communicate health and safety protocols to guests before arrival;
  • Communicate rules on physical distancing, wearing of face masks and sanitising; and
  • Communicate to guests the completion of the health declaration forms and relevant contact information in advance.

Building confidence 

A person in charge of the tourism establishment must:

  • Ensure clear and straightforward communication with customers on safety and hygiene protocols both digitally and physically;
  • Implement clear signage throughout the establishment to inform guests of cleaning protocols and physical distancing;
  • Provide guidelines in line with the advice of health authorities to guests, which include wearing face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

The sector-specific rules around weddings, accommodation, events, casinos, and curio shops are explored in more detail in the document below.


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New rules for travel, weddings, and accommodation in South Africa