As the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) hits closer to home, South Africa and indeed the world is facing an unprecedented situation – one that is evolving rapidly and whose effects are entirely unknown.
The “extraordinary measures” decision taken by the South African government today to “reduce the impact of coronavirus” will have dire results for South Africa’s inbound tourism private-sector and its international partners. The travel bans entail:
- Imposing travel bans effective 18 March to and from high-risk source markets, including South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, USA, UK and China
- Travellers from medium-risk source markets – Portugal, Singapore and Hong Kong – to present themselves for high-intensity testing
- Cancellation of visas granted to citizens from high-risk destinations
- Any foreign national who visited a high-risk country will be denied a visa
- Self-isolation for travellers who have come from high-risk destinations since mid-February
Despite this, the tourism industry remains committed to responding proactively and will do everything it can to safeguard travellers and customers at this uncertain time.
“We face a difficult challenge as an industry to respond to this continuously evolving situation. Our only defence is to monitor the situation around the clock and put in place proactive measures and flexible policies to assist travellers, members and their customers, so that when the situation returns to some normality, South Africa is open for business and ready to welcome the world,” says David Frost, CEO SATSA.
While SATSA understands that the SA Government decision was difficult and supports any measures aimed at keeping its citizens safe, it must be reiterated that we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by panic. As such, SATSA urges its members and travellers not to share unverified and information from unofficial sources.
To keep its members informed so that they can employ proactive measures and precautions, SATSA is updating its Coronavirus website page continuously with information from official sources.
“We are regularly adding to our FAQs based on questions received from members about Coronavirus,” says Frost.
For those travellers that choose to continue with their travels, we urge tourism stakeholders to remind their customers to practice the basic hygiene advice stipulated by the World Health Organization to mitigate the spread of the disease. Details can be found on SATSA’s dedicated coronavirus website page.