FEDHASA is hopeful that the UK’s precautionary measure to add South Africa and several neighbouring countries to its red list will be lifted swiftly as scientists unpack the extent to which the COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new variant, B1.1.529.
“The UK being our largest inbound international market, last night’s news by the British Government has caused widespread disbelief and disappointment amongst our hospitality industry as we enter our peak festive season period,” says Rosemary Anderson, FEDHASA National Chairperson.
“New variants are discovered all the time, often without making any major impact, and we are still hopeful that our advanced scientific capability will find that in this case there is little to worry about. However, that does not mean that this decision by the British government won’t have widespread repercussions, not only by dissuading British travellers to visit South Africa, but also due to the likely spin-off we will see from other key source markets if they take the UK’s lead,” says Anderson.
FEDHASA highlights how unsustainable this situation is for South Africa and for its tourism and hospitality sector which generates 1.5 million direct and indirect jobs and is the country’s second-largest export.
“There is no question that South Africans need to go out and get vaccinated as a matter of urgency. To be locked down on a semi-regular basis and banned for international travel because of our advanced genomic sequencing capability and low vaccination rates cannot continue. We depend on tourism for jobs and livelihoods,” Anderson says.
Further, as we head into the festive season with a rising infection rate and the prospect of local lockdowns which directly impact the hospitality sector, Anderson calls on South Africans to do everything in their power to stem the spread of a fourth wave.
“We simply cannot have a repeat of December 2020 where restaurants and hospitality businesses bore the brunt of COVID regulations making travel and restaurant patronage unappealing and difficult. Our industry has had to endure being thrust from wave to wave for the past 20 months and it simply isn’t sustainable to keep businesses open and livelihoods intact. It is up to every South African to do their part and help us keep our doors open by complying with the protocols and getting their #jab4tourism,” Anderson concludes.