More airports open for South African travel

 ·16 Sep 2020

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has published a new directive which permits a number of airports to open for domestic travel.

The directive, which was published on Wednesday (16 September), makes no mention of international or regional travel – although this issue is expected to be addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday evening.

The list of airports which have been opened include:

  • Bram Fischer International Airport;
  • Cape Town International Airport;
  • East London;
  • George Airport;
  • Hoedspruit Airport;
  • Kimberly Airport;
  • King Shaka International Airport;
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport;
  • Lanseria International Airport;
  • Margate Airport;
  • Mthatha Airport;
  • OR Tambo International Airport;
  • Phalaborwa Airport;
  • Pietermaritzburg Airport;
  • Plettenberg Bay Airport
  • Polokwane Airport
  • Port Elizabeth International Airport;
  • Richards Bay Airport;
  • Sishen Airport
  • Skukuza Airport;
  • Upington International Airport.

In a separate directive, Mbalula also clarified that game drive vehicles are now permitted to carry 100% of their licensed passenger capacity.

The move will be welcomed by the tourism industry ahead of the country’s expected move to a level 1 lockdown. President Ramaphosa is expected to announce relaxed travel restrictions – including the opening of the country’s borders for regional travel.

Other expected changes include:

  • The removal of the evening curfew;
  • Easing of restrictions around alcohol sales;
  • Adjusting limits on gatherings, such as church services, by instead increasing it to a percentage of capacity (ie, 50% of a venue’s capacity instead of 50 people);
  • Social distancing, mask-wearing, and hygiene protocols will remain in place.

The Department of Tourism published a draft recovery plan at the beginning of August, outlining the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and how the tourism industry is likely to be impacted over the coming year.

The document provides a detailed breakdown of international and local projections for when tourism will likely open up, using modelling that takes into account various infection patterns and recovery scenarios.

The policy document notes that the reopening of international tourism and the country borders will not only be dependent on South Africa’s coronavirus response, but also 44 primary source markets which drive international tourism to the country.

Using this data, the department forecasts a global tourism re-opening in a wide window: between August 2020 and early 2021.

“This scenario assumes that the general observed recovery trajectory persists and that progress towards enhanced treatments for Covid-19 by the end of 2020 continue, with an accessible vaccine coming to market by the end of 2021,” the department said.

“Since indications of international border re-openings remain speculative at the time of writing, these dates represent the earliest likely date at which international travel will resume.”

The below model shows the estimated travel periods for South Africa’s primary ‘source countries’  for tourism.

  • The model is set between August 2020 and May 2021;
  • For domestic travel (travel within the respective country), the opening window is set between August 2020 and mid-February 2021;
  • For international travel (to and from the respective country), the opening window is set between November 2020 and May 2021.

Read: President Ramaphosa to address the nation over lockdown rules tonight

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