Tourism industry banking on ‘herd immunity’ by December to boost international travel to South Africa

 ·13 Sep 2021

The tourism industry is eyeing the government’s push to vaccinate 67% of adult South Africans by December as a key point in reopening international travel for the country, says South African Tourism chief executive Sthembiso Dlamini.

Dlamini told radio station 702 that international travellers are far more likely to travel to a country with a high proportion of its population vaccinated. She added that countries with a hypothetical “herd immunity” are far more likely to see a tourism boost.

“All of us are looking us towards the 67% of the adult population having been boosted by December. I think that will be such a big confidence boost for international destinations.” The reality is that vaccination plays a huge role in the sector’s recovery, she said.

“It is frustrating to hear fake news on what the vaccine can or cannot do. I would encourage people to leave it to the professionals, but also to go and vaccinate.”

Health minister Dr Joe Phaahla said on Friday (10 September) that South Africa will need to reach another 18 million more adults to achieve a 70% coverage of the adult population by December.

In a national address on Sunday evening, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that over a quarter of all adult South Africans have received at least one vaccine dose and more than seven million people are fully vaccinated.

“In the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Western Cape, more than one in five adults is now fully vaccinated. The total number of vaccine doses administered in the country now stands at 14.6 million doses,” he said.

“We are now administering a million doses every four to five days. Government has secured sufficient vaccines to vaccinate the entire adult population, and the supply of vaccines is no longer a constraint.”

However, Ramaphosa said that the country needs to do much more to reach its intended vaccination targets.

“While everyone aged 18 years and older is eligible to be vaccinated, we are concentrating our efforts and resources on those over 60 years of age and those with co-morbidities. To date, over 57% of persons over 60 years of age have been vaccinated. This is a great achievement, but we need to reach them all.

“We are finding that more women than men are coming forward to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Although the numbers are improving, men are still slow in coming forward to be vaccinated.”

Read: Mauritius lifts travel ban on South Africa ahead of holiday season

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