The Flight Centre Travel Group has welcomed the announcement that South Africa’s borders will reopen for international travel from 01 October 2020.
“We welcome the announcement that a date has been set for the reopening of South Africa’s borders with open arms,” says Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group Managing Director Middle East and Africa.
“The decision by our government is vital in helping not only the travel and tourism industry, decimated by months of being on hold, start to recover but the economy as a whole. Many jobs will now be able to resume, providing much-needed income for hundreds of thousands of South Africans,” says Stark.
“After the reopening of interprovincial borders, we saw domestic tourism start to come alive, providing the boost that the local industry needed to begin the recovery process. We were truly encouraged to see a surge in domestic holiday bookings as South Africans started to travel domestically and by doing so, help support the millions of people that are employed in the travel and tourism sector.
“The easing of restrictions gave us a chance to get outside again, beyond our provincial borders, but now is our time to reconnect,” says Stark. “Many families and loved ones have not been able to see each for months due to international borders being locked down. This news will surely bring much relief and joy as these individuals can now book their travels into and out of the country.
While the reopening of our borders is a vital, positive step in the right direction, the return to regional and international travel is not going to be immediate, cautions Stark.
“Airlines need months of notice before they put inventory on certain routes and before they resume full capacity,” says Stark. “There are going to be many considerations and logistics involved when it comes to opening our international air space. My concern with regards to this was always that the longer we leave opening our borders, the longer it takes to get back up and running, meaning we’re last in line with global airlines in terms of inventory and routes. South Africa is not a hub but serves a really strong inbound focus. The Flight Centre Travel Group expects regional travel to SADAC countries and travel favourites such as Zanzibar, Mauritius, Zambia and similar to start to recover first.
“The fact that we now have a date gives airlines and industry a chance to get the wheels in motion, so that not only can we get inbound tourists into our country just in time for the peak December holiday season, but that South Africans can reconnect with loved ones globally.
“We expect there will still be many questions from travellers about the different requirements for travelling in our current reality. Flight Centre experts are here to assist. We have the answers and if we don’t, we will try our best to get them for you. More than ever, travelling with peace of mind is going to be vital. We are looking forward with hope and positivity – and cannot wait to reconnect South Africans with their loved ones around the world,” concludes Stark.