The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) has called for calm as the travel industry faces an unprecedented crisis following the recent announcement of travel restrictions imposed by the government.
“In what can be described as one of the biggest crises the South African travel industry has ever experienced, it is crucial for calm to prevail at this time. We call for a close cooperation between the industry and the government and encourage strong inter-governmental cooperation to minimise the impact on the travel and tourism industry,” says Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA.
The coronavirus pandemic is putting up to 50-million jobs in the global travel and tourism sector at risk, with travel likely to slump by a quarter this year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
“ASATA will tirelessly lobby the government at this time to represent the interests of our industry. We will endeavour to request support measures such as stimulus plans and support packages to ensure the longevity of our industry,” says de Vries.
To assist members, ASATA has set up a coronavirus information centre which is being updated continuously with information about how the situation is evolving, changing travel supplier policies, and communication and advice from official sources.
It is crucial at this time for ASATA members to continue to provide a calm, informed, coordinated and proactive response to the panic that has emerged globally around COVID-19.
ASATA is appealing to the travel public to postpone instead and not cancel their travel plans. “Since the travel restrictions have been implemented in South Africa, now more than ever, travellers should rely on their travel advisors to help keep them safe, and assist with the inevitable disruption that these travel advisories will cause for the travelling public,” says de Vries.
“We urge travellers to turn to their ASATA travel advisor for the latest official travel information and what their options are for rebooking. Your ASATA travel advisor is equipped with information from official sources to help you make informed and fact-based decisions for your travel arrangements. We also urge the wider public to take care not to share travel information that is unverified to mitigate any further panic.”
ASATA also strongly advises travellers to purchase travel insurance prior to any international travel, and to ensure that they know what their insurance covers.