South Africans rush to book flights as travel restrictions ease – here’s where they are going

South Africa’s removal from the UK’s travel red list on 11 October has resulted in a flood of travel enquiries and bookings, says the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG).

In the hours and days following the announcement, the group said that the UK has quickly become the most booked international destination for South Africans.

It noted that Mauritius and Dubai had been the two most booked international destinations for South Africans before the UK’s travel restrictions were eased.

Mauritius opened its country up for travellers on 1 October 2021, with fully vaccinated South Africans allowed to stay at any hotel, resort or accommodation of their choice and move freely around the island.

Unvaccinated travellers have to undergo 14 days of quarantine in a state-designated quarantine facility. The UAE opened travel to South Africans at the end of June. Passengers are required to take a PCR test before leaving and on arrival at Dubai International airport.

“We have been inundated with enquiries for travel to the UK since the long-overdue announcement by the British government on Thursday evening,” said Andrew Stark, FCTG managing director.

“There’s been a massive spike in enquiries and bookings across our retail travel booking channels and brands, including on our website, in our Flight Centre stores and through Flight Centre Independent.”

The number of new air tickets issued from South Africa with London as the final destination has increased fivefold since 7 October, said Sue Garrett, general manager Supply, Pricing and Marketing at FCTG.

“The majority of air tickets booked have been for departure in November and December 2021. We estimate that many of these bookings are for South Africans finally making plans to reunite with family and friends over the December and January holidays,” she said.

Passengers do not have to quarantine when arriving in the UK, provided they have proof of their vaccination status.

Travellers must have had a complete course of one of the following vaccines at least 14 days before you arrive in the UK:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Pfizer BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

Travel restrictions 

In addition to the UK’s red list announcement on Monday, the Russian Federation opened its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from South Africa this week.

Russia’s regulations state that a PCR test is required within 72 hours before arrival and online registration no later than 48 hours before arrival.

mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 14 October, South Africa has 65 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place. This is up from around 60 significant restrictions before the third Covid wave hit.

These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.

By comparison, there are currently 39 moderate restrictions for South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet specific entry requirements, including taking Covid-19 tests.

Read: South Africa is getting an updated vaccine certificate at the end of October – here are 9 other things to know

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South Africans rush to book flights as travel restrictions ease – here’s where they are going