Archives: Press Release

Experiences Not Things – Tourism Sector inspires consumers to invest in their memories this Festive Season

South Africa is open to tourism, effective immediately, whether you hail from Paris or Parys. The move is a much-needed reopening for a beleaguered industry left reeling by the impact of lockdown and the muddled reopening of international tourism which has confused overseas travellers.

The announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night and subsequent release of gazetted regulations allowing inbound international tourism from all countries provided the requirement of a negative PCR certificate gives the tourism industry the certainty it needs to start recovering lost ground.

While many competitor destinations will remain closed for the foreseeable future, tourism in South Africa has been given the green light to operate in full with stringent health and hygiene protocols in place to safeguard the wellbeing of staff and guests.

As South Africa prepares for its annual summer Festive Season, the South Africa is Travel Ready Collective has launched an innovative campaign to inspire consumers to buy experiences instead of things to reconnect with yourself your friends and family.

“After a tough year, consumers are looking for ways to escape and reconnect meaningfully with others. A 20-year study by Cornell University shows how investing in experiences over things delivers ‘enduring happiness’ as you are able to break out from your everyday routine, try something new when you travel,” says Natalia Rosa, MD Big Ambitions, a member of the South Africa is Travel Ready Collective.

In addition to experiences being a bigger part of identity than material goods, investing in experiences supports the tourism economy which has been hard hit by COVID and holds one of the greatest potentials for reigniting South Africa’s economy.

“What’s more, with the variety of experiences at different price points on offer, there really is something for everyone. The tourism sector has worked hard to de-risk itself with stringent health and hygiene protocols making it safer to travel than visiting the supermarket,” says Rosa.

South Africa is Travel Ready is launching a social media and marketing campaign featuring available tourism experiences in South Africa across a range of categories. #ExperiencesNotThings will be featured on the traveltosouthafrica.org landing page with all the information of what’s on offer and how to book it directly with the experience provider. There will also be exciting competitions run throughout the campaign. Contact us for more information: [email protected].

“If you’re lucky enough to have spare cash this Festive Season, please consider steering clear from throw-away décor items for your festive table and put food on someone else’s table instead by supporting the tourism sector. Besides, if all you want for the Festive Season is time out of your house, there’s an experience on offer to deliver it,” concludes Dionne Collett, Director, Take Note Reputation Management, a member of the South Africa is Travel Ready Collective.

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Airlink reconnects South Africa and Botswana

Airlink, the privately-owned regional airline, will reconnect South Africa and Botswana when it resumes scheduled passenger services between Johannesburg and Gaborone next week and to Kasane and Maun next month.

This follows Botswana’s phased lifting of travel restrictions that curtailed travel while it worked to successfully contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Airlink is looking forward to re-establishing the vital services between Johannesburg and Botswana’s three key destinations that sustain the all-important business, trade, tourism and family ties between the two neighbouring countries,” said Airlink CEO, Rodger Foster.

Our services to and from Gaborone, Maun and Kasane will provide travelers with seamless connectivity onto  Airlink’s new direct flights linking Johannesburg with Cape Town and with Durban.  Connections are also available to Airlink’s other South African destinations, such as Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein and others.  Airlink is rebuilding and expanding its network with the resumption and addition of services to destinations throughout the SADC region, all reachable with Airlink connections via its hub at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Airlink’s great value for money Economy Class fares include a 20kg free economy class checked in luggage allowance plus a 15kg sporting equipment allowance.  Onboard, our customers are treated to a complimentary light meal, refreshments, generous leg room and a choice of aisle or window seat (our flights do not have middle seats).

Airlink’s intra-continental Business Class service is available on selected flights operated by our state-of-the-art Embraer E-jets, with wide seats arranged in a two plus one abreast configuration with plenty of legroom between each row.   Our service on these flights includes complimentary meals and beverages, a 30kg check-in luggage allowance and priority boarding.

Experience more https://www.flyairlink.com/profile/airlink-profile#businessclass

Flight Schedule

Gaborone to Johannesburg (from 16 November 2020)

Mornings:

Flight 4Z 172 will depart Johannesburg at 06h20 on Mondays to Fridays, arriving in Gaborone at 07h15.

Flight 4Z 173 will depart Gaborone at 07h45 on Mondays to Fridays arriving in Johannesburg at 08h40.

Afternoons:

Flight 4Z 180  will depart Johannesburg at 13h50 daily arriving in Gaborone at 14h45. 

Flight 4Z 181 will depart Gaborone daily at 15h15, arriving in Johannesburg at 16h10

Johannesburg to Maun (from 01 December 2020)

Flight 4Z 300 will depart Johannesburg at 11h55 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays arriving in Maun at 13h30

Flight 4Z 301 will depart Maun at 14h00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 07h45 arriving in Johannesburg at 15h35

Johannesburg to Kasane (from 16 December 2020)

Flight 4Z 306, will depart Johannesburg at 11h40 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays arriving in Kasane at 13h25

Flight 4Z 307, will depart Kasane at 13h55 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays arriving in Johannesburg at 15h45

Please visit our flight schedule guide for more information

COVID-19 Health and Safety onboard Airlink flights 

During these stressful times, health and safety – yours and ours - remains our primary concern.  Our aircraft are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters (HEPA), which are effective at blocking 99.97% of particulates, including Coronavirus molecules.  These HEPA filters continually sterilize the air in our cabins, which is renewed entirely every three minutes.

Read more about our Embraer ERJ Regional Jet Cabin Air Quality here.

With Airlink you are safe and can fly with confidence  – it’s easier than you think.

Botswana and South African Biosecurity and Travel regulations

Please check with the appropriate Botswana government authority for the latest regulations for travel from and returning to Botswana.

South Africa has introduced additional measures for international travellers arriving in the country.  Click here for information on these requirements.  Please note that all arriving travellers are now required to provide a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test certificate, issued by an accredited laboratory in line with World Health Organisation standards, no more than 72 hours before the date of travel.   South African Authorities reserve the right to verify the authenticity of presented PCR test certificates.   Arriving travellers unable to produce a valid certificate will be required to quarantine, at their own cost, for 10 days.   South Africa also requires visitors to carry valid travel insurance policies that cover the costs associated with COVID-19 testing and quarantining.

For passengers flying from South Africa to Botswana, there are some important steps and items you will need to follow before and as your proceed through any South African airport.  Click here for information on these.   

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Research Points to Low Risk for COVID-19 Transmission Inflight

Manufacturer studies provide insight into extremely few incidents of COVID-19 inflight infections.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) demonstrated the low incidence of inflight COVID-19 transmission with an updated tally of published cases. Since the start of 2020, there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases). Over the same period, some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.

“The risk of a passenger contracting COVID-19 while onboard appears very low. With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, that’s one case for every 27 million travellers. We recognize that this may be an underestimate but even if 90% of the cases were unreported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travellers. We think these figures are extremely reassuring.  Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings inflight became widespread,” said Dr David Powell, IATA’s Medical Advisor. 

New insight into why the numbers are so low has come from the joint publication by Airbus, Boeing and Embraer of separate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research conducted by each manufacturer in their aircraft. While methodologies differed slightly, each detailed simulation confirmed that aircraft airflow systems do control the movement of particles in the cabin, limiting the spread of viruses. Data from the simulations yielded similar results: 

  • Aircraft airflow systems, High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, the natural barrier of the seatback, the downward flow of air, and high rates of air exchange efficiently reduce the risk of disease transmission on board in normal times.
  •  The addition of mask-wearing amid pandemic concerns adds a further and significant extra layer of protection, which makes being seated in close proximity in an aircraft cabin safer than most other indoor environments.

Data Collection

IATA’s data collection, and the results of the separate simulations, align with the low numbers reported in a recently published peer-reviewed study by Freedman and Wilder-Smith in the Journal of Travel Medicine. Although there is no way to establish an exact tally of possible flight-associated cases, IATA’s outreach to airlines and public health authorities combined with a thorough review of available literature has not yielded any indication that onboard transmission is in any way common or widespread. Further, the Freedman/Wilder-Smith study points to the efficacy of mask-wearing in further reducing risk.

Layered Approach of Preventive Measures

Mask-wearing on board was recommended by IATA in June and is a common requirement on most airlines since the subsequent publication and implementation of the Takeoff Guidance by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This guidance adds multiple layers of protection on top of the airflow systems which already ensure a safe cabin environment with very low risks of inflight transmission of disease. 

“ICAO’s comprehensive guidance for safe air travel amid the COVID-19 crisis relies on multiple layers of protection, which involve the airports as well as the aircraft. Mask-wearing is one of the most visible. But managed queuing, contactless processing, reduced movement in the cabin, and simplified onboard services are among the multiple measures the aviation industry is taking to keep flying safely. And this is on top of the fact that airflow systems are designed to avoid the spread of disease with high airflow rates and air exchange rates and highly effective filtration of any recycled air,” said Powell.

Aircraft design characteristics add a further layer of protection contributing to the low incidence of inflight transmission. These include:

  •   Limited face-to-face interactions as passengers face forward and move about very little
  • The effect of the seat-back acting as a physical barrier to air movement from one row to another
  •  The minimization of the forward-aft flow of air, with a segmented flow design which is directed generally downward from ceiling to floor 
  • The high rate of fresh air coming into the cabin. Air is exchanged 20-30 times per hour onboard most aircraft, which compares very favourably with the average office space (average 2-3 times per hour) or schools (average 10-15 times per hour).
  •  The use of HEPA filters which have more than 99.9% bacteria/virus removal efficiency rate ensuring that the air supply entering the cabin is not a pathway for introducing microbes.

Manufacturer Studies

The interaction of those design factors in creating a uniquely low-risk environment had been intuitively understood but not previously modelled prior to the CFD simulations by the three major manufacturers in each of their aircraft cabins. The following are highlights from the manufacturers’ research:

Airbus

Airbus used CFD to create a highly accurate simulation of the air in an A320 cabin, to see how droplets resulting from a cough move within the cabin airflow. The simulation calculated parameters such as airspeed, direction and temperature at 50 million points in the cabin, up to 1,000 times per second.

Airbus then used the same tools to model a non-aircraft environment, with several individuals keeping six feet (1.8 meters) distance between them. The result was that potential exposure was lower when seated side by side on a plane than when staying six feet apart in an environment such as an office, classroom or grocery store.

“After multiple, highly-detailed simulations using the most accurate scientific methods available, we have concrete data which reveals the aircraft cabin offers a much safer environment than indoor public spaces,” said Bruno Fargeon, Airbus Engineering and the leader of the Airbus Keep Trust in Air Travel Initiative. “The way that air circulates is filtered and replaced on airplanes creates an absolutely unique environment in which you have just as much protection being seated side-by-side as you would standing six feet apart on the ground.”

Boeing

Using CFD, Boeing researchers tracked how particles from coughing and breathing move around the airplane cabin. Various scenarios were studied including the coughing passenger with and without a mask, the coughing passenger located in various seats including the middle seat, and different variations of passengers’ individual overhead air vents (known as gaspers) on and off.

“This modeling determined the number of cough particles that entered the breathing space of the other passengers”, said Dan Freeman, the chief engineer for Boeing’s Confident Travel Initiative.  “We then compared a similar scenario in other environments, such as an office conference room. Based on the airborne particle count, passengers sitting next to one another on an airplane is the same as standing more than seven feet (or two meters) apart in a typical building environment.”

Embraer

Using CFD, cabin air flow and droplet dispersion models validated in full-scale cabin environment testing, Embraer analyzed the cabin environment considering a coughing passenger in several different seats and air flow conditions in our different aircraft to measure these variables and their effect. The research Embraer completed shows that risk of onboard transmission is extremely low, and the actual data on in-flight transmissions that may have occurred, supports these findings. 

Luis Carlos Affonso, Senior Vice-President of Engineering, Technology and Strategy, Embraer, said, "The human need to travel, to connect, and to see our loved ones has not disappeared. In fact, at times like this, we need our families and friends even more. Our message today is that because of the technology and procedures in place, you can fly safely – all the research demonstrates this.  In fact, the cabin of a commercial aircraft is one of the safer spaces available anywhere during this pandemic."

Safety is Always the Top Priority

This research effort demonstrates the cooperation and dedication to safety of all involved in air transport and provides evidence that cabin air is safe. 

Aviation earns its reputation on safety with each and every flight. This is not different for flying in the time of COVID-19. A recent IATA study found that 86% of recent travellers felt that the industry’s COVID-19 measures were keeping them safe and were well-implemented. 

“There is no single silver-bullet measure that will enable us to live and travel safely in the age of COVID-19. But the combination of measures that are being put in place is reassuring travellers the world over that COVID-19 has not defeated their freedom to fly. Nothing is completely risk-free. But with just 44 published cases of potential inflight COVID-19 transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, the risk of contracting the virus on board appears to be in the same category as being struck by lightning,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“The detailed computational fluid dynamics research of the aircraft manufacturers demonstrates that combining the aircraft’s existing design features with mask-wearing creates a low-risk environment for COVID-19 transmission. As always, airlines, manufacturers and every entity involved in aviation will be guided by science and global best practices to keep flying safe for passengers and crew,” said de Juniac.

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‘Help us, help you’ – Tourism sector pledges to support South Africa’s economic recovery given the opportunity and an enabling environment

Tourism stakeholders should prioritise strong private-public partnerships and sing off the same hymn sheet if South Africa is going to reignite the economy out of these Covid-19 stormy waters.

This according to #IAmTourism lobby spokesperson Thembi Kunene-Msimang. “We’ve taken the first step by announcing a date for the reopening of South African borders, thus providing some confidence to our international customers and airlines. But beyond our reopening as an international Tourism destination is the need for political support at the highest level of Government so that Tourism-friendly policies can be enacted and market failures that affect Tourism be addressed.

“The sector cannot grow to its full potential unless several interventions are introduced swiftly to improve our competitiveness as a Tourism destination, drive demand and contribute significantly in reigniting South Africa’s economy.”

Kunene-Msimang underscores 5 key enablers that have been highlighted by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, some of which are reiterated in the National Department of Tourism’s Recovery Strategy:

1. Air Access

As a catalyst for Tourism, South Africa is in desperate need of air liberalisation and an immediate national initiative to drive route take-up. The example of Cape Town Air Access (CTAA) has shown the success of stakeholders collaborating in air route development. With a relatively small budget, CTAA has from 2015 – 2019 brought in 10 new airlines, 15 new routes and 20 route expansions.

The Department of Tourism’s Recovery Strategy does provide for the formation of a national air access unit responsible for countrywide route support and development, as well as the implementation of a comprehensive air service development programme.

2. Health and Hygiene Safety Protocols

The continued widespread adoption of the health and hygiene safety protocols is critical. These protocols were created collaboratively by the Tourism sector through the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Medical experts confirm that if these protocols are adhered to, South Africa should be able to manage the risks posed by COVID-positive travellers, as well as those situations where

travellers can be infected within South Africa’s borders. Much of South Africa is already in this position – with all open businesses subject to health protocols.

The question that will help balance lives and livelihoods must be: “What is the difference between a South African who is COVID-positive travelling across the country vs a foreign tourist doing the very same?”

In its Tourism Recovery Strategy, the Department of Tourism recommends introducing national Norms and Standard for safe tourism operations, inspired by globally recognised biosecurity protocols across the value chain to enable safe travel and rebuild traveller confidence. It acknowledges that the tourism sector has been proactive in establishing biosecurity protocols that reduce transmission risk across all sub-sectors and can adapt to changing requirements and best practice.

3. Favourable visa regime

Temporary visa waivers should be considered for key markets as direct or indirect airlift is introduced. Additionally, a comprehensive visa waiver review is necessary to consider how visa waivers can enable tourism while still supporting national security. Further, a real e-visa is required, preferably by January 2021 at the latest. We have to have a best-of-breed world-class fully automated e-visa, or else we will fall further behind our competitors.

The National Department of Tourism has highlighted the need to remove barriers to travel and enable freer entry. “Frictionless visa and immigration processes and policies will need to form part of an improved destination value proposition post-crisis,” it says.

It further acknowledges that the piloting and rollout of the proposed e-visa system to simplify the visa and entry process is important. Competitor destinations Australia and New Zealand have set up two of the benchmark systems globally, and, since many popular destinations (e.g. France, USA, Spain, China, Italy, Germany and the UK) do not currently offer an e-visa, an opportunity for competitive advantage exists.

4. Tourism safety and security

To minimise crime against tourists and give tourists confidence that they are safe, we need significantly more, effective, and highly visible policing in all tourist hotspots. This could be through special tourist accredited police (metro or SAPS) and the roll-out of the Tourism Monitors programme, both at scale.

According to the Department of Tourism’s Recovery Strategy, safety and security are consistently one of the biggest barriers to visitor conversion.

As such it has recommended intensifying work on tourism safety using its safety monitors programme and partnership with the police and relevant stakeholders. From a tourism safety perspective, the Department pledges to continue to work with the police to deal with hotspots and further roll out its comprehensive programme on tourist safety.

5. Collaboration – private and public, whole of state

In addition to a private-public partnership between South African Tourism and the private sector to implement effective and coordinated international destination marketing, we need a whole-of-state approach for Tourism to flourish. The Tourism industry is multi-faceted and policies, laws, regulations and actions in most national government departments may, or do, affect tourism. South Africa must develop mechanisms to ensure that Tourism participates fully in the economic cluster and that its needs are understood in other ministries.

To quote SA Tourism and the National Department of Tourism’s Recovery Strategy (2020): “South Africa is one of a small group of truly aspirational destinations on earth. To many travel consumers, the country is a dream experience, combining powerful social justice history, breath-taking natural beauty, and warm, welcoming people. South Africa can therefore aspire to a tourism economy that drives growth and fosters development.

“To capture the opportunity requires an urgent response to the current crisis, but also a recognition of the structural factors that have acted as a drag on tourism growth. The tourism sector’s potential far exceeds previous levels and while the crisis has been catastrophic, long-term growth potential is undiminished.”

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‘We’ll keep travellers safe’ – Tourism promise, with reopening of international borders

The Tourism sector has reiterated its pledge to keep travellers and staff safe with the partial reopening of international tourism and travel.

This evening’s announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that South Africa would institute lockdown Level 1 and travel from 1 October was met with relief by Tourism stakeholders who have seen their livelihoods threatened or lost as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Tourism can be South Africa’s economic lifeline,” says Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO Tourism Business Council of South Africa. “Every day we have been closed to international travel, we have lost R336m of spend and the Government has lost vital tax revenue. Opening up our Tourism sector will have a direct and immediately positive impact on Government’s coffers at a time when it most needs it.”

Reopening safely

Importantly, the health and safety of travellers must remain the primary concern for tourism and hospitality stakeholders. The same measures that have been instituted successfully to domestic travellers have been extended to international tourists, which eliminates the need for requirements such as quarantines, explains Professor Alex van den Heever, Chair in the field of Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies at the Wits School of Governance

“It is imperative that safe alternatives to quarantine approaches also be considered. Workable options can be developed in conjunction with infectious disease specialists and institutionalised into health protocols,” he says.

Under the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), the entire value chain of Tourism has devised and rolled out stringent health and hygiene safety programme and protocols under the banner, Travel Safe – Eat Safe, says Lee Zama, CEO FEDHASA, the national trade association for the hospitality industry that includes accommodation and catering sectors.

“These protocols have been based on international best practice and endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Our industry is ready to receive guests. We have protocols in place to mitigate any risk associated with COVID-19 and have developed a Travel Safe-Eat Safe mobile app to ensure that the information of guests and participating establishments are logged electronically. South Africa is Travel Ready,” says Zama.

Reopening in phases is not logical

The COVID risk and mitigation measures are the same and the approach to people travelling to South Africa from any country should be identical. The new COVID management situation with different behaviours and following protocols applies equally no matter where you hail from.

As such, “reopening in phases is not logical,” reiterates Professor van den Heever.

“All borders should be reopened as there are no additional risks posed by an industry that is well organised, has stringent health and hygiene safety protocols in place and operates in low-density settings,” adds Professor van den Heever.

“Inbound travel will still be about 30% of 2019 levels. But if uncertainty is created now, this will be far lower. There is, therefore, no need to phase in open borders as travel will in any case phase itself,” he says.

If public health is the overriding criteria for reopening to certain source markets before others, South Africa will need to reopen to those with a similar pandemic profile, not countries where the rolling average of new cases per million of the population is much higher than ours, explains Gillian Saunders, Tourism consultant and specialist.

“However, regardless of which source markets you decide to open up to in this phased approach, the reality is that we would still have 58 million South Africans circulating freely within the country compared with a small number of international tourists who will be subject to just the same health protocols as us. The risk is the same.”

Enabling environment for tourism

Government’s decision to reopen to international travel and tourism gives the industry an opportunity to get back on its feet, says David Frost, CEO SATSA, the voice of inbound international tourism.

The sector cannot grow to its full potential and contribute more meaningfully to South Africa’s economy unless several interventions are introduced swiftly to improve our competitiveness as a Tourism destination and drive demand, among these the removal of quarantine requirements for visitors and improved visa access.“Now more than ever comes the opportunity for public and private sector to collaborate in word and deed and to leverage South Africa’s competitive advantage as a global Tourism player. This is the industry that has been earmarked as a catalyst for inclusive economic growth. As such, Tourism should be prioritised if it is going to make the contribution it has to potential to make to pull the South African economy out of these stormy waters,” says Frost.

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As catalyst to economic growth, Aviation calls on Government to open international borders and get the economy back on track

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Aviation stakeholders are calling on President Ramaphosa and Government to immediately reopen South Africa’s international borders and let the sector play its role as a major catalyst for the country’s economic recovery and growth.

The Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA), representing foreign carriers, and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) representing local and regional airlines, warn that more than half of the 472 000 South African jobs in aviation, tourism and associated sectors, will be lost if international travel and tourism remains shut.

“We have successfully flattened the COVID-19 infection curve and we are ready to implement the agreed global measures to enable the safe resumption of international air travel.  Having saved lives, now is the time to save livelihoods,” says Zuks Ramasia, CEO BARSA.

“With about US$9.4 billon or 3.2% of GDP supported by air travel and tourism, opening the borders is crucial to the economy’s recovery and future growth. We need to demonstrate that South Africa is open and safe for business and leisure travel.  If we don’t get people flying again, the economy will be severely hampered,” she adds.

AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, says “About 270 000 South African  aviation and associated travel and tourism-related jobs are at risk due to the closure of international travel and tourism.   The lack of international directly affects the viability and sustainability of our airports, air navigation and airspace management, meteorological and aviation safety oversight infrastructure services as well as businesses of all sizes across the entire value chain.  Without flights and passengers, there is no revenue, which means no jobs, no spending in the local economy and an even deeper shortfall in tax revenues to enable Government to keep the actual and proverbial lights on”.

“Mr. President, open the borders and empower the officials so they can put the necessary resources in place so that we can get back to work and contribute to repairing the economy before the damage is permanent,” he adds.

Aviation biosecurity protocols render quarantines redundant

Under the guidance and scrutiny of the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s (SACAA) and Department of Health, biosecurity protocols and operating procedures have been applied to domestic flights. These are based on a set of global measures drawn up jointly by a global task group of experts from the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), it’s sister body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International and various leading public health and infection control institutes.  South Africa was represented on the international task group. The measures it defined are also designed to be applied globally to international air travel.

“These protocols obviate the need for quarantines, which, as we have seen in other markets, are self-defeating as they deter people from traveling.  Besides which, there are no quarantine requirements for people moving between known infection hotspots within South Africa,” observes Zweigenthal.

“Unlike many other transport modes, aviation is highly regulated. Government, legislators and regulators should trust their own systems. The protocols in place and which are to be applied to international flights, are the ones they helped to craft and which they approved,” adds Ramasia.

“At the same time, this does not absolve passengers from acting responsibly.  Face masks must be worn, hand regularly sanitised and social distancing observed.  And if you don’t feel well, don’t even go to the airport!   If you need to familiarise yourself with what to do and expect, check with the airlines and airports, or IATA’s Fly with Confidence site, which give you all of the information you might need,” she advises.

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Beyond international leisure travel, Tourism’s value chain extends from aviation to restaurants to meetings, incentives and exhibitions

In July, a team of technical experts from Germany flew to South Africa to provide essential services to local German businesses and entities, such as Eskom. While there may be little or no leisure aspect to their travels, their visit falls firmly within the ambit of Tourism.

“The general perception of Tourism is that it is the preserve of well-heeled local and international tourists taking a holiday. The reality is that much of Tourism is in fact travel for business, conference and trade purposes. This type of travel has been as negatively impactedby the COVID lockdown as holiday travel, and both make a significant contribution to South Africa’s economy although many may not even regard it as Tourism,” says Thembi Kunene-Msimang, spokesperson of the #IAmTourism Lobby.

With the release this week of South Africa’s GDP Q2 figures and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s calls for a quick and bold plan to place South Africa on a “rapid growth trajectory”, a spotlight is shone on Tourism as the sector with the greatest potential to reignite South Africa’s economy, sustainably.

According to PWC’s Public and Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) Report (2019), Tourism is the number one industry with the potential to stimulate South Africa’s inclusive economic growth and employment, creating the greatest multiplier effect of jobs and export potential.

But Tourism is more than game lodges, beach resorts and Cape Town city breaks. The value chain of tourism is long and deep, running from car rental to aviation, accommodation to restaurants. “Contributing some R120 billion in foreign exchange from visitor receipts in 2018, adding up to about 8.7% of South Africa’s exports – second only to mining – Tourism really is more than palm trees and piña coladas. Its potential to reignite South Africa’s economy cannot be underestimated,” says Kunene-Msimang.

Inbound business travellers are vital to support our globally linked economic sectors.

“Without global connectivity for business leaders and experts, South Africa would not be able to sustain our trading relationships with any, and particularly our main export trading partners such as China, Germany, the USA, the UK and Japan. Without international mobility, FDI, which we need to support economic growth, cannot be facilitated.

“As much as we need to re-open up our economy locally, we need to re-open our economy internationally else we will hamper our growth and constrain our development,” explains Kunene-Msimang.

Similarly, international business event tourism (conferences, conventions and exhibitions) is vital to support B2B trade in globally linked sectors and to stimulate and support research and development in the social, economic, scientific, medical, and many other fields.

“Our associations and academic institutions rely on global inter-connectivity to enhance and develop knowledge and expertise. While initially and even in the longer term some of this may divert to online mechanisms, the expectation is that business travel will re-emerge.”

Events Industry

According to the SA Events Council (SAEC), a formal Industry body that comprises a collaboration of 12 Industry Associations that represent the Meetings, Incentives, Conference, Exhibitions (MICE), Events and Business Events Industry, about half a million people are employed through the associated and related economic activity.  

“This industry contributed 11.4% of foreign tourism in 2019. That same year, South Africa hosted 103 international Association meetings, of which 57 were held in Cape Town and the Western Cape,” says Tes Proos, Chairperson South Africa Events Council.

“On average, Cape Town hosted 20,227 international delegates during the year and in South Africa, a total of 39,579 international delegates culminating in an estimated economic impact of International Association meetings of R905 million for the year. Exhibitions then add R24 million to Business Tourism, which creates 35,000 jobs directly and R40 billion in business deals concluded at trade shows.”

To date,100% of Exhibitions and Events have been postponed from 2020 to 2021 and even 2022, representing R68 billionof lost economic impact for the South African economy in 2020, which critically comes with a devastating loss of employment.

The sector is not insensitive to the need to balance saving livelihoods and lives. “Based on the WHO regulations and the Department of Health guidelines, the events sector has collaborated and established Reopening Guidelines which call for compulsory registration of every person that attends events, allowing vigilant, screening, tracking, and tracing together with a host of safety protocols to ensure that events are hosted in a safe, controlled and organised manner,” explains Proos.

Beyond the opening of borders, the Events sector requires the reopening of events for 300+ persons immediately, with a phased approach that includes the reopening of the greater Industry by October, 2020 and for international events, by November 2020. 

“The entire Tourism sector, including corporate travel and business events, cannot grow to its full potential unless several interventions are introduced swiftly to improve our competitiveness as a Tourism destination and drive demand. We need a reopening date and we need an enabling environment that reduces red tape so Tourism can take root and flourish,” concludes Kunene-Msimang.

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United Airlines Announces New Nonstop Service Between Johannesburg and New York/Newark

Image by Nel Botha from Pixabay

United Airlines today announced plans to expand its global route network with a new, nonstop daily service between South Africa and the United States. Starting in Spring 2021, the airline will become the only U.S. airline to operate between Johannesburg and New York/Newark. Together with the airline’s existing seasonal three times weekly service between Cape Town and New York/Newark, United will offer more nonstop services from South Africa than any other U.S carrier.

“This new nonstop service will strengthen our international route network and provide our customers from South Africa with even greater travel choice and the possibility to connect via our New York/Newark hub to destinations across the Americas,” said Marcel Fuchs, United’s Managing Director International Sales. “Connecting Johannesburg to New York will open up new opportunities for both business and leisure travellers and help our customers in South Africa reconnect with friends and family around the world.”

Located just 14 miles from Manhattan, Newark Liberty International Airport offers the fastest surface transfer journeys to many parts of the city, including the AirTrain service to New York Penn Station in midtown Manhattan, with a journey time of less than 30 minutes. 

The new route is subject to government approval and tickets will be available for purchase on united.com and the United app in the coming weeks.

United in South Africa

United has served South Africa since 2019. In addition to the new service from Johannesburg to New York/Newark, United offers its customers from South Africa a seasonal three times weekly nonstop service from Cape Town to New York/Newark. Flights are conveniently timed to connect at United’s New York/Newark hub with an extensive network of services to destinations throughout the Americas.

The United Travel Experience

United’s new service from Johannesburg to New York/Newark will be operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The revolutionary design of the Dreamliner offers customers many features for increased comfort, such as large windows, spacious overhead storage and modern LED lighting to simulate a full day, helping passengers adjust their internal clock on the trans-Atlantic flight. In addition, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and smoother ride help customers feel rested on arrival.

United Polaris® business class is a premium travel experience that prioritises relaxation and comfort, featuring restaurant-quality inflight dining, premium amenity kits and full flat-bed seats.

Committed to Ensuring a Safe Journey

United is committed to putting health and safety at the forefront of every customer’s journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness through its United CleanPlusSM programme. United has teamed up with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to redefine cleaning and health safety procedures from check-in to landing and has implemented more than a dozen new policies, protocols and innovations designed with the safety of customers and employees in mind, including:

  • Requiring all travellers – including crew members – to wear face coverings.
  • Using HEPA filters – in the air and during the entire boarding and deplaning process - to circulate air and remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles.
  • Using electrostatic spraying before departure for enhanced cabin sanitation.
  • Using ultraviolet lighting technology on pilot flight decks to further disinfect the aircraft interior.
  • During check-in, requiring customers to acknowledge they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Offering customers a touchless baggage check-in experience.
  • Boarding fewer customers at a time, from the back of the plane to the front, to allow for more social distancing.

About United

United’s shared purpose is “Connecting People. Uniting the World.” For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter and Instagram or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Airlines Holdings, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

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No reason why Tourism poses a greater risk than any other sector by being open – Wits School of Governance’s Professor Alex van den Heever

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“There is no reason why Tourism poses a greater risk than any other sector by being open,” says Professor Alex van den Heever, Chair in the field of Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies at the Wits School of Governance. 

In his view, South Africa is shooting itself in the foot by keeping Tourism closed as there is “no public health reason to do so”. 

Off the back of GDP Q2 results that paint a stark picture of the state of the economy, South Africa can ill afford to cripple an industry that is widely touted as having the greatest potential to reignite South Africa’s beleaguered economy. 

According to PWC’s Public and Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) Report (2019), Tourism is the number one industry in South Africa with the greatest potential to stimulate inclusive economic growth and employment, creating the greatest multiplier effect – in terms of jobs, growth and export potential. 

Yet, despite medical experts saying the industry is low risk enough for borders to reopen due to the sector’s stringent health and hygiene safety protocols adopted, South Africa remains firmly shut for the foreseeable future with a stringent visa regime and quarantine requirement under the National Disaster Act that would severely constrain demand for inbound international tourism even if borders were to reopen tomorrow. 

It is worth noting that the tourism sector is far better able to manage the risk of the pandemic now than it was in March 2020.   

Besides being able to reopen safely, South Africa must as far as possible avoid the requirement of a quarantine period, explains Professor van den Heever. “It is imperative that safe alternatives to quarantine approaches also be considered. Careful consideration needs to be given to developing such an approach as it will remove a considerable barrier to international travel. Workable options can be developed in conjunction with infectious disease specialists and institutionalised into health protocols.” 

“South Africa already has community infections and therefore needs to manage the risk to the general community and the traveller in an environment in which the disease is already present.” This is unlike the situation of countries such as New Zealand and South Korea which have focused their strategies on disease elimination. For South Africa and Europe this horse has long bolted.

“In the South African context, if an infected person comes to our country, it would be much the same as if someone from Benoni travelled to Johannesburg. Almost every area in South Africa was seeded, so we will only see a bubbling up of the virus if we back off from being careful and expose communities to super spreading events. So we need to be cautious and adhere to health protocols until there is a safe and effective vaccine.

“The questions we should be asking are, how we should manage the risk of living with the virus, and how can we best mitigate the consequences of people being positive in different contexts. We can’t just shut everything down. The main issue is preventing super spreading by being careful and attentive to any instances where protocols need to be updated or where protocol adherence is a problem,” explains Professor van den Heever.

With the prospect of a vaccine being many months away and recognition from the medical fraternity that our strategy needs remain focused on prevention and the management of risk, health and hygiene protocols become more than the currency of trust amongst travellers. They become the key to reopening South Africa’s borders safely.

According to Professor van den Heever, if good protocols are adhered to, South Africa should be able manage the risks posed by COVID positive travellers as well as those situations where travellers can be infected within South Africa’s borders. Much of South Africa is already in this position – with open businesses subject to health protocols. It is therefore unclear what additional risks are posed by international travel that are not already present and managed locally.

South Africa’s Tourism sector has adopted stringent protocols through the Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s (TBCSA) Travel Safe – Eat Safe programme, which has been informed by all international and local health and safety guidelines, including World Health Organization (WHO), National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD), and Department of Health (DoH), reviewed by an epidemiologist and endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). 

Says TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa: “We are confident South Africa’s tourism economy can be opened up safely if we follow global best practice and the comprehensive protocols we have developed. Travelling is as safe as going to the supermarket and many other things we do every day.” 

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TBCSA calls for opening up of borders to let tourism breathe life into the economy

One industry in particular has the power and potential to reignite South Africa’s ailing economy, but to do so it’s going to need more than support from South Africans, and Government giving the green light for reopening borders.

Today’s announcement indicating a 51% decline in South Africa’s GDP during Q2, puts a spotlight on swift measures that will need to be put in place to aid South Africa’s ailing economy which prior to COVID-19 was already in the doldrums.

Tourism is known to have the ability to sustainably breath new air into the sails of any economy  as touted by analysts and economists and this has been stated by the South African Government itself.

According to PWC’s Public and Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) Report (2019), Tourism is the number one industry in South Africa with the greatest potential to stimulate inclusive economic growth and employment, creating the greatest multiplier effect – in terms of jobs, growth and export potential.

For this to happen Tourism requires targeted economic stimulation and favourable policy decisions for it to flourish and become the jobs multiplier and economic powerhouse it has the potential to become.

Tourism’s contribution to employment is already estimated to be larger than the individual contribution of agriculture, automotive manufacturing, chemical manufacturing and mining, with some 1.5 million people employed directly and indirectly through the sector.

Tourism also generated R120 billion in foreign exchange from visitor receipts in 2018, adding up to about 8.7% of South Africa’s exports – second only to mining. Further, as an apex sector, it has a long and deep supply chain into industries such as vehicle manufacturing, agriculture, fuel and other manufacturing. For every R1 of direct GDP impact, R1,50 is spent on supply chain and capital – offering many SMME opportunities.

“Tourism can be South Africa’s economic lifeline, but only if international borders are opened up soon,” says Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA). “We are appealing to the Government to safely open our borders. Our industry is ready, our source markets are waiting to travel, so let's save jobs and the economy.”

Tourism needs to reopen as quickly as possible, as safely as possible

The TBCSA’s Travel Safe-Eat Safe protocols and programme, endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), has been rolled out widely across the Tourism sector to ensure the safe reopening of the industry.

And while Tourism stakeholders agree that the reprieve granted by domestic travel will provide a lifeline, it cannot be the industry’s lifeblood sustainably.

An opening date is critical if Tourism is to reignite South Africa’s economy, not only to ensure that international trade can plan ahead, but also so that airlines can retain South Africa on their schedules. If airlines take the decision to redeploy their aircrafts or reduce their schedules, this will have a direct impact not only on Tourism, but also Trade.

“The safe reopening of South Africa’s borders is an essential step for Tourism to contribute meaningfully to Government’s tax revenues. Every day we remain closed to international travel, we lose R336 million of spend and the Government loses vital tax revenue. Opening up our Tourism sector will have a direct and immediate positive impact on Government’s coffers at a time when it most needs it.” Tshivhengwa concludes.

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Virgin Atlantic provides complimentary COVID-19 global insurance cover for all bookings

Virgin Atlantic customers can book with confidence this year with the introduction of free COVID-19 insurance cover on all new and existing bookings.

The policy, which applies automatically to all flights booked with Virgin Atlantic, is designed to complement existing travel insurance and provide additional peace of mind for upcoming trips, whether customers are already booked or plotting a getaway.

In the event that they or anyone else on their booking becomes ill with COVID-19 while travelling, Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures related costs are covered, no matter how long the trip is or even if they’re visiting another destination on the same overseas trip. The insurance policy is fulfilled by Allianz Assistance and covers emergency medical and associated expenses while abroad totalling £500,000 per customer – the highest value of policy offered by any airline to date, with no excess payment required.

The policy also covers expenses incurred up to £3,000 if a customer is denied boarding, at either departure or in destination, or has to quarantine due to positive or suspected COVID-19 during a trip.

Customers booked to travel from 24 August 2020 up to and including 31 March 2021 will automatically receive the new COVID-19 Cover and Virgin Atlantic Holidays customers will also benefit, where the flights on their holiday booking are with Virgin Atlantic. Providing the customer is travelling on a Virgin Atlantic ticket if the flight is operated by a partner airline or a Joint Venture carrier - Delta Air Lines or Air France-KLM - the cover will also apply. Tickets can be booked via virginatlantic.com, by phone or through a travel agent, including reward tickets on Virgin Atlantic flights.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic said:

“Our priority is always the health and safety of our people and customers and this industry-leading Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures customers can continue to fly safe and fly well with us.

“Following our return to the skies to much-loved destinations like Barbados, we’re planning more services in the autumn, as travel restrictions continue to ease, including London Heathrow to Montego Bay, Antigua, Lagos and Tel Aviv. Whether it’s to visit friends and relatives or take a well-deserved break, we believe this complimentary cover will provide some added reassurance for our customers as they start to plan trips further afield. It applies in parallel to existing travel insurance policies which may now exclude COVID-19, and provides comprehensive cover for coronavirus, recognising the needs of our customers as we restart services.”

Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover joins the airline’s flexible booking policy to give as much choice as possible to customers as they make their future travel plans. Customers booking with the airline have the option to make two date changes to their flights, with rebooking available up until 30 September 2020. These date changes have the associated change fee waived, though potential fare differences may be incurred if the new travel dates are after 30 November 2020.

Key features of the COVID-19 Cover include

  • 24-hour emergency medical assistance
  • £500,000 of emergency medical expenses if you are taken ill due to Coronavirus during your journey, including treatment, transport and accommodation costs
  • Additional costs should a customer be denied boarding due to suspected or actual COVID-19, or if they are held in quarantine, including accommodation, transport charges, refreshments, booking amendment fees and other travel expenses
  • Repatriation home, including private air ambulance where necessary
  • No excess payable
  • Cover for the whole trip, with no upper limit on the length of customer’s time away
  • Cover for all passengers with no restrictions on age, travel class or length of journey
  • Terms and conditions apply


The cover starts from the point of booking and ends when the customer returns home or to a hospital or nursing home in their home country. One-way trips are also included, with the insurance cover valid until the end of the journey, which is defined as 12 hours after the arrival of the customer’s final flight.

For a full breakdown of Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover and more information on the policy visit the Virgin Atlantic website: https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/news/coronavirus/free-globalcover-for-COVID-19.html.

As part of its multi-layered approach to public health measures, and for customer convenience, peace of mind and confidence, Virgin Atlantic will direct customers towards a list of recommended companies that offer COVID-19 'PCR Antigen' testing, where it’s required to travel. This list will be constantly reviewed by the Medical, Health and Safety teams to ensure the highest standards. Information about the testing requirements for destinations that Virgin Atlantic currently flies to can be found on the website: https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/news/coronavirus/travelrestrictions.html.

Click here for additional details.

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31 days, 31 #IAmTourism women featured by South Africa is Travel Ready

  • 70% of the Tourism Workforce are women – many of whom are reeling from the devastating impact of the lockdown which hit the Tourism community
  • #IAmTourism campaign celebrates all women in tourism, and gives a voice to those whose voices remain unheard during Women’s Month and beyond

Cape Town, 4 August 2020 – What better way to highlight the role of women in tourism and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their livelihoods than to feature their stories during Women’s Month?

This August, South Africa’s Tourism community celebrates 31 stories of 31 women in tourism, as the heart of an #IAmTourism campaign to highlight the important role that women play in the tourism industry and the extent to which their livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.

The #IAmTourism campaign forms part of an overall initiative driven by a PR & Communications collective, bringing together influential agencies in the tourism and hospitality space to support the inbound tourism industry’s efforts to reopen tourism as quickly as possible, as safely as possible.

Operating under the banner ‘South Africa is Travel Ready’, the collective comprises African Twist Travel, Big Ambitions Marketing, Darling Lama, Hunter Group, Lesley Simpson Communications, Scribe Consulting, Take Note Reputation Management, Tribeca Public Relations and Vuma Reputation Management.

In addition to widespread media lobbying, ‘South Africa is Travel Ready’ continuously updates its www.traveltosouthafrica.org website with articles, information, Media updates and Trade Toolkit to communicate the readiness of South Africa’s tourism sector to reopen. The South Africa is Travel Ready Collective also runs on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, under the banner @satravelready and hashtag #SouthAfricaisTravelReady.

The firm focus this August is on profiling the women of the tourism industry to give them a voice and highlight the extent to which women comprise the Tourism Workforce – 70% of people employed in Tourism are women.

Through the #IAmTourism campaign, the collective features one woman in tourism every day of August – 31 days, 31 #IAmTourism stories of women describing how they got into tourism, their journey since lockdown began, what they believe the role of tourism is in their lives and that of their families, the importance of tourism to South Africa and what they could say to inspire their fellow women in travel. These stories are curated on YouTube and other Social Media platforms, and in blogposts and media articles.

In addition to the 31 days, 31 #IAmTourism stories, ‘South Africa is Travel Ready’ is also running a social media campaign featuring thousands of women brandishing #IAmTourism signs on social media. The #IAmTourism hashtag has been widely adopted by the Tourism industry and is being displayed on everything from T-shirts to placards, and even walls.

Now more than ever, the women of South Africa need support to become financially independent and to support their families. To do this through Tourism, South Africa must follow a sensible and safe, data-driven reopening and recovery strategy, underpinned by strict health and safety protocols, where Government provides the enabling environment for Tourism to flourish in a new COVID-impacted world.

Every company and individual in South Africa’s tourism industry has the power to contribute to and amplify the message that ‘South Africa is Travel Ready’ and to give a voice to the forgotten women in tourism whose livelihoods have been lost as a result of the pandemic.

For more information, please email [email protected] or call 083 449 4334.

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Newly Released Tourism Regulations Permit Intra-Provincial Domestic Leisure Travel

JOHANNESBURG, 28 JUNE 2020 – There has been some confusion on the interpretation of the gazetted tourism regulations that were issued on Friday by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and a press briefing subsequently held by the National Department of Tourism.

While the regulations themselves do not allow for inter-provincial domestic leisure travel, as indicated by Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the gazetted regulations allow travel for leisure (for anything that is allowed under level 3), such as golf, hiking, going to a casino or a restaurant, visiting game reserves. The regulations also allow “formally accredited and licenced accommodation” to operate. Nowhere in the gazetted regulations does it state that domestic leisure overnight stays will not be allowed.

In his presidential address on 17 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that there would be an easing of restrictions on certain economic activities including “accredited and licenced accommodation” with the exception of home sharing accommodation like AirBnB. The Presidency confirmed at the time that “commercially licenced accommodation” would be “allowed” at Level 3 with “strict health protocols in place”.

In his preamble he said “this pandemic has also been a global economic crisis of ever-increasing proportion”. The President added that some businesses have had no revenue and people have had no income for 80 days and that even with government’s various support packages, there is a limit to how long these businesses can remain closed.  The opening of accommodation is in support of this statement to save jobs and livelihoods through enabling more businesses to trade.

Tourism Regulations issued on Friday do outline specific economic exclusions, including  short-term home-sharing, letting, leasing, rental for leisure purposes, and for now, domestic passenger air travel for leisure purposes. There are no exclusions outlined for intra-provincial domestic leisure overnight stays in “accredited and licenced accommodation”.

Further, nowhere in the regulations is there a requirement for restaurants to restrict the number of persons allowed to no more than 50% of capacity or 50 guests, contrary to reports that have been circulating.

The regulations state: “All gatherings are prohibited except a gathering at … restaurants, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures as provided for in directions that must be issued by the responsible Cabinet member, after consultation with the Cabinet member responsible for health”.

The Tourism Sector has worked tirelessly to ensure that stringent health and safety protocols have been put in place to welcome and keep safe, not only business travellers, but also leisure travellers. These have been issued by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and can be viewed here.

Contact Natalia Rosa on 083 449 4334 or [email protected] for more information.

***Ends***

About South Africa is Travel Ready

South Africa is Travel Ready is a PR & Communications collaboration of influential agencies in the tourism and hospitality space which are supporting the inbound tourism industry’s efforts to open the country to international tourism as soon as possible.

The PR collaboration operates under the campaign banner ‘South Africa is Travel Ready’ and comprises Big Ambitions, The Hunter Group, Lesley Simpson Communications, Scribe Consulting, Take Note Reputation Management, Tribeca Public Relations and Vuma Reputation Management.    

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Balancing Lives And Livelihoods The Core Focus For Tourism Sector’s Phased And Safe Reopening

JOHANNESBURG, 29 JUNE 2020 – The phased reopening of tourism in South Africa requires a delicate balance between “saving lives and preserving livelihoods”, as highlighted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his address to the nation earlier in June.

This is a responsibility the Tourism Sector takes extremely seriously. As such, it has put its weight behind the President and National Department of Tourism’s efforts to reopen the tourism sector in a responsible and phased manner, starting with the easing of travel restrictions around domestic business travel and intra-provincial domestic leisure travel under robust health and safety protocols that have been informed by global best practice.

And reopen it must if livelihoods and businesses are to be preserved. In the President’s own words: “There is a limit to how long these businesses can be closed”. In the case of tourism, research tells us this limit is already having dire consequences for the sector and economy.

As many as 1.15 million tourism jobs could be lost if the international travel ban and lockdown continues for the rest of the year, according to the Bureau for Economic Research. For an industry that employs 1.5 million people directly and indirectly – 70% of which are women, 60% youth and many low- to semi-skilled people in areas with the greatest employment need – this is a significant dent in the country’s employment.

Already, over 250,000 employees within the tourism value chain applied for the UIF TERS programme in April and May and this is expected to double in June. At least 50% of tourism businesses have reduced staff salaries and 43% have furloughed or made redundant at least half of their staff, according to a survey run by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

Many tourism businesses depend on international tourism for their overall survival. Should South Africa remain closed to international tourism until the end of 2020, there is every likelihood that the 2021-2022 season will also be impacted. The negative impact of lockdown on the livelihoods of millions of South Africans will extend well beyond the lifting of that lockdown, most notably affecting local communities who are reliant on tourism businesses in and around conservation areas – our main tourism asset. 

Saving lives while preserving livelihoods

To ensure Tourism is among the lowest-risk economic sectors, the tourism industry has developed comprehensive protocols to address and mitigate key risk areas, informed by all international and local health and safety guidelines, including World Health Organization (WHO), National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD), and Department of Health (DoH).

These have been issued by the TBCSA, have been reviewed by an epidemiologist and accepted by all sub-sectors of the industry. The protocols, which can be viewed here, are also being rolled out with an equally robust process to monitor and ensure compliance.

As South Africa is several months behind northern hemisphere tourism destinations which are currently reopening for tourism, we will have the opportunity to observe and learn from their successes and challenges.

Our focus, as we lobby for a phased reopening of international inbound tourism as close to September as possible, is to ensure the tourism sector implements, fine tunes and improves on the operating protocols developed to safeguard staff and guests from the spread of COVID-19, thus delivering on the President’s call to balance lives and livelihoods.

A further step on this journey of reopening has now been given the green light with the allowance of intra-provincial domestic leisure travel and overnight stays for intra-provincial domestic leisure in “accredited and licenced accommodation” with the exception of home-sharing accommodation. This was gazetted in the recently released advanced Level 3 regulations issued by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

With strict health protocols in place and lessons being learnt from global best practice, we will use this opportunity and ensure South Africa is Travel Ready for its much-needed reopening of international inbound tourism in a safe and responsible manner.

Contact Natalia Rosa on 083 449 4334 or [email protected] for more information.

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South Africa Is Travel Ready – Webinar Recording And Resources

If you missed the powerful and positive webinar on South Africa’s international inbound tourism recovery, don’t worry… we recorded it!

Here’s 5 things you that were highlighted by our panellists during the session:

  1. Government and Private-Sector have partnered on one Tourism Recovery Strategy.
  2. South Africa’s opening to international tourists hinges on robust health and safety protocols which have been developed, approved and are being rolled out.
  3. The data-driven Tourism Recovery Strategy sets a date as close to 1 September as possible, based on a phased approach.
  4. South Africa and its tourism assets are ideal for travel in a time of COVID-19.
  5. We need to create an enabling environment for tourism when we can eventually open, e.g. strong tourism-friendly visa regime.

But there’s far more, shared by our panelists:

  • Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO TBCSA
  • David Frost, CEO SATSA
  • Margie Whitehouse, Wesgro
  • Monika Iuel, Private Safaris
  • Rob More, MORE Family Collection

Click here to listen to or share the webinar with your industry colleagues.

SOUTH AFRICA IS TRAVEL READY

Want to set the record straight on when South Africa will be open for business? This Tourism Business Council of South Africa press release provides some useful information for you to share with your industry colleagues and any press contacts. Click here.

To further assist in promoting South Africa, [email protected] if:

  • You’ve found a news story (good or bad) about South Africa and tourism
  • Have your own positive story about Destination South Africa
  • Have a media contact who wants more information about tourism to South Africa
  • Have a trade contact who wants more information about tourism to South Africa
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Sanparks Opens For Self-Drive Day Excursions After Two Months

South Africa National Parks (SANParks) opened self-drive excursions for day visitors from today, Monday 8 June 2020, in parks that cater for self-drives.

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said SANParks used last week to prepare for the expected arrivals of guests to parks. “We appreciate that after two months of confinement, the public is keen to engage with nature and the excitement as shown by enquiries from our loyal visitors is encouraging. We are obligated to ensure that the opening of our national parks for self-drive excursions is done under the strictest health protocols to safeguard both our staff and guests.”

As a result, we are limiting face-to-face contact between staff and guests by encouraging online and telephonic day visit bookings and full payment of conservation fees prior to arrival where possible. Bookings can be made at 012 428 9111 or www.sanparks.org from Monday 8 June. In the case of Wild Card members, guests have to ensure that their membership is valid prior to arrival.

He said Namaqua National Park, as well as Boulders and Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park, remain closed for the meantime and the majority of gates at Kruger National Park will be open with the exception of Pafuri and Numbi gates. Gate quotas for Kruger have been revised to approximately one-third of what they were prior to COVID-19. Three time slots for arrival will be introduced with the understanding that booked day visitors must arrive at the gate within that time span. Slot 1 is from 06:00 to 08:00, Slot 2 from 08:00 to 10:00 and Slot 3 from 10:00 onwards. Hides and picnic spots at all parks remain closed; braaing at picnic sites will also not be allowed during this period. Ablutions will be open in camps, at gates and at some picnic spots. A limited number of shops and petrol stations will open in some parks during the course of the week and will be operated in accordance with relevant Level 3 lockdown regulations. Further information and updates will be available on our website on Monday 8 June 2020.

The national lockdown regulations relating to movement between provinces must be observed within the parks. “This means inter-provincial travel within parks that stretch between two provinces will not be permitted. Guests, therefore, must exit into the province from which they entered the park. “

He said everything as we knew it has fundamentally changed by COVID-19, “therefore we are requesting guests to adhere to all official alert level 3 regulations when inside the parks including wearing masks, keeping social distance, and following transport capacity directives. We also implore guests not to deposit their litter inside the bins within the parks but to leave with as much of it as hygienically possible.”

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Transport Minister Confident Airports Are Covid-19 Ready

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has expressed confidence that the aviation industry and the country’s airports will adhere to COVID-19 regulations and directives, as the sector reopens.

The Minister made the declaration on Wednesday at the O.R Tambo International Airport, where he was inspecting the airport’s adherence to lockdown regulations and directions.

“These regulations and directives are there for the protection of all people and we expect absolute compliance,” said Mbalula.

He said government understood the need for a balanced gradual reopening of the economy and safety and good health.

“I am confident that our airports will play a central role in reigniting the economy, reconnecting our economic hubs, while strictly operating under these conditions.”

During the visit, the Minister observed that ORTIA had vending machines for personal protective equipment (PPE) and witnessed social distancing within the facility.

During the visit, airport leadership demonstrated how cabins were being disinfected and prepared as restriction flight operations resume.

“I am satisfied that the airport has started out well and we expect this to continue. Now that we have started with opening up aviation, we must look ahead with determination in order for the transport sector to perform its vital economic role.”

Over and above the approval of the ORTIA procedures, he said, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has approved the procedures for Cape Town International and is currently reviewing the procedures for King Shaka International.

“In terms of the readiness of the airlines, I would like to state that the airlines, including charters, have also submitted their procedures, which are being reviewed by the SACAA,” he said.

Level 3 regulations

At the weekend, the Minister outlined regulations at which airlines would resume operations under lockdown level 3.

At this level, only passengers are allowed inside the terminal buildings. Temperature screening will become a norm at terminal building entrances before any passenger is allowed entry. Passengers without facemasks will not be given access to terminal buildings, Mbalula said.

The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) is expected to ensure effectiveness of the sanitisation process before entering the terminal buildings, which may result in the number of entrances being reduced.

“All the airports will have markings on the floor for social distancing of 1.5 metres. This will be applicable at check-in counters, security checkpoints and airport lounges,” the Minister said.

At boarding gates, boarding will be staggered and prioritised in terms of the number of passengers waiting to board. Sectional boarding will be implemented to avoid unnecessary contact inside the aircraft.

“Inside the cabin, full capacity will be allowed. It must be noted that the risk of COVID-19 infection onboard a commercial passenger airliner is lower than in many other confined spaces. All our commercial aircraft are fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. These are manufactured to the same standard as those used in hospital operating theatres and industrial clean rooms, with the same efficacy of 99.97% in removing viruses,” Mbalula said.

Catering and magazines will not be allowed in the cabin. Last rows to be reserved for isolation of suspected cases, should they be detected on board.

Loading capacity for all airport buses must be limited to 70%. The buses must be disinfected after off-loading. Drivers, baggage handlers and ground handlers must be fully equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE),” said the Minister.

On arrival, all passengers will be screened as they enter terminal buildings, with suspected cases referred to Port Health.

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Tourism Industry Standard Protocols For Covid-19 Operations

The South African tourism industry has developed comprehensive protocols for the operation of all types of tourism businesses and facilities in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protocols align with the latest Disaster Management and Department of Employment and Labour (DoEL) Regulations, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD), and Department of health (DoH) guidelines and advice, as well as the Health & Safety Act. The protocols will be updated as required on an on-going basis in line with the risk-adjusted economic activity allowed and the pandemic status.

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TBCSA Presents Calculated, Driven And Gradual Re-Opening Of Tourism To Parliament’s Tourism Portfolio Committee

JOHANNESBURG, 10 JUNE 2020 –The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) successfully presented the Tourism Recovery Strategy to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism yesterday. 

The data-driven Tourism Recovery Strategy advocates unequivocally for an earlier phased reopening of international tourism to South Africa as soon as September 2020. 

While one of the comments raised by the Tourism Portfolio Committee was that the proposed September timing may be impacted by the predicted peak in COVID-19 infections experts estimate could happen around September, the TBCSA highlighted that the reopening would be dependent on the development and roll out of stringent and practical health-focused protocols by the travel and tourism value-chain to safeguard staff, travelers and guests. 

The presentation to the Tourism Portfolio Committee was an important step in the “shoulder-to-shoulder” collaboration that private and public sector stakeholders have agreed is needed for tourism to reopen and contribute to South Africa’s economic and job creation prospects. 

“We acknowledge the good work being done by Government to get tourism back on track. Tourism is a vital sector to South Africa’s economy and accounts for 1.5 million jobs, many of those employed are young people. By nature of tourism’s value chain, there are also significant benefits to other parts of the economy when tourism reopens. We are committed to doing this safely,” says Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, TBCSA CEO. 

The TBCSA’s proposed Tourism Recovery Strategy acknowledges that a phased approach will be required for the responsible reopening of international tourism to South Africa. A “calculated, driven, aggressive and gradual” re-entry of tourism into the economy is essential if South Africa is to save 1.2 million jobs, many of which are in rural areas, directly and indirectly linked to tourism, as well as the wider communities reliant on the tourism sector for their survival. 

With the introduction of Level 3 lockdown, and with it the limited opening of business travel in South Africa, there is an opportunity to showcase the efforts and commitment that all aspects of the tourism value chain have made in developing and implementing protocols to instill confidence in the industry’s ability to deliver a safe environment within which tourism activities can take place. 

“As we see elsewhere in the world, the opening of domestic tourism is the first phase in ensuring that tourism starts to open slowly and leads the way in launching the various components in the 

tourism value chain. Business travel is the largest component in the formal travel industry. Its reopening provides us with an opportunity to see how we can further open domestic leisure within the context of the protocols in the very near future,” explains Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of TBCSA. 

The TBCSA’s proposed phased Tourism Recovery Strategy provides for an initial 6-8-week Preparation Phase, followed by a Phase 1 trial where safe source markets with similar risk profiles and stages of pandemic would be allowed to travel to South Africa. These travelers would be vetted, all stringent safety protocols would be in place and the focus would be on low-contact product and low-risk areas. 

In Phase 2, South Africa would further open key markets, expand the experiences on offer, until in Phase 3 air access is opened fully and the destination can restart its longer-term growth strategy. 

Whilst the presentation focused on the recovery, various members of the committee also raised the very real issue of transformation in the sector. It was agreed that there would be an interaction on this matter in the future. Overall, the presentation was well received with many committee members acknowledging the role of tourism as well as the importance of reopening safely. 

“We receive calls every day from tourism companies which are on the brink of having to retrench staff or close down. We have many, many jobs to protect in tourism. If we do not protect the value chain, it’s going to be very difficult to reinstate it. And, if we do not do something soon, there are too many companies that will be beyond the point of no return,” explains Tshivhengwa. 

“We are committed to a safe and responsible plan to reopening our tourism sector. We know that the public sector, and our private-sector tourism stakeholders are all equally as committed to this goal. This is our sector,” concludes Tshivhengwa. 

***Ends*** 

ABOUT TBCSA 

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is the umbrella organisation representing the unified voice of business in the travel and tourism sector. 

The TBCSA was established in February 1996 by leading tourism businesses and associations to form a unified platform to engage with the South African government around the development of the sector. 

It is a not-for-profit, member-centric organisation mandated with the task of: 

• Lobbying the public sector on behalf of its members; 

 Press Release 

TBCSA PRESENTS CALCULATED, DRIVEN AND GRADUAL RE-OPENING 

OF TOURISM TO PARLIAMENT’S TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE 

JOHANNESBURG, 10 JUNE 2020 –The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) successfully presented the Tourism Recovery Strategy to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism yesterday. 

The data-driven Tourism Recovery Strategy advocates unequivocally for an earlier phased reopening of international tourism to South Africa as soon as September 2020. 

While one of the comments raised by the Tourism Portfolio Committee was that the proposed September timing may be impacted by the predicted peak in COVID-19 infections experts estimate could happen around September, the TBCSA highlighted that the reopening would be dependent on the development and roll out of stringent and practical health-focused protocols by the travel and tourism value-chain to safeguard staff, travelers and guests. 

The presentation to the Tourism Portfolio Committee was an important step in the “shoulder-to-shoulder” collaboration that private and public sector stakeholders have agreed is needed for tourism to reopen and contribute to South Africa’s economic and job creation prospects. 

“We acknowledge the good work being done by Government to get tourism back on track. Tourism is a vital sector to South Africa’s economy and accounts for 1.5 million jobs, many of those employed are young people. By nature of tourism’s value chain, there are also significant benefits to other parts of the economy when tourism reopens. We are committed to doing this safely,” says Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, TBCSA CEO. 

The TBCSA’s proposed Tourism Recovery Strategy acknowledges that a phased approach will be required for the responsible reopening of international tourism to South Africa. A “calculated, driven, aggressive and gradual” re-entry of tourism into the economy is essential if South Africa is to save 1.2 million jobs, many of which are in rural areas, directly and indirectly linked to tourism, as well as the wider communities reliant on the tourism sector for their survival. 

With the introduction of Level 3 lockdown, and with it the limited opening of business travel in South Africa, there is an opportunity to showcase the efforts and commitment that all aspects of the tourism value chain have made in developing and implementing protocols to instill confidence in the industry’s ability to deliver a safe environment within which tourism activities can take place. 

“As we see elsewhere in the world, the opening of domestic tourism is the first phase in ensuring that tourism starts to open slowly and leads the way in launching the various components in the 

tourism value chain. Business travel is the largest component in the formal travel industry. Its reopening provides us with an opportunity to see how we can further open domestic leisure within the context of the protocols in the very near future,” explains Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of TBCSA. 

The TBCSA’s proposed phased Tourism Recovery Strategy provides for an initial 6-8-week Preparation Phase, followed by a Phase 1 trial where safe source markets with similar risk profiles and stages of pandemic would be allowed to travel to South Africa. These travelers would be vetted, all stringent safety protocols would be in place and the focus would be on low-contact product and low-risk areas. 

In Phase 2, South Africa would further open key markets, expand the experiences on offer, until in Phase 3 air access is opened fully and the destination can restart its longer-term growth strategy. 

Whilst the presentation focused on the recovery, various members of the committee also raised the very real issue of transformation in the sector. It was agreed that there would be an interaction on this matter in the future. Overall, the presentation was well received with many committee members acknowledging the role of tourism as well as the importance of reopening safely. 

“We receive calls every day from tourism companies which are on the brink of having to retrench staff or close down. We have many, many jobs to protect in tourism. If we do not protect the value chain, it’s going to be very difficult to reinstate it. And, if we do not do something soon, there are too many companies that will be beyond the point of no return,” explains Tshivhengwa. 

“We are committed to a safe and responsible plan to reopening our tourism sector. We know that the public sector, and our private-sector tourism stakeholders are all equally as committed to this goal. This is our sector,” concludes Tshivhengwa. 

***Ends*** 

ABOUT TBCSA 

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is the umbrella organisation representing the unified voice of business in the travel and tourism sector. 

The TBCSA was established in February 1996 by leading tourism businesses and associations to form a unified platform to engage with the South African government around the development of the sector. 

It is a not-for-profit, member-centric organisation mandated with the task of: 

• Lobbying the public sector on behalf of its members; 

• Facilitating key industry programmes aimed at driving growth and development in the sector; 

• Monitoring and influencing macro-economic developments which impact the sector; 

• Serving to unite and influence the diverse travel and tourism sector to contribute to a competitive, responsible, and inclusive tourism economy. The work of the organisation and its strategy is guided by the following priority areas: 

o Providing organised business in the sector a route to Government; 

o Focusing on legislative issues and policies impacting on the travel and tourism sector. 

o Managing and growing TOMSA. 

o Member engagement and communication. 

o Influencing the marketing of destination South Africa. 

o Research – commissioning, collating, and communicating. 

Issued by Vuma Reputation Management on behalf of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. For media queries, please contact: 

Candice Marescia | [email protected] | 067 415 6967 

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