Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Cape Town: The South African government has welcomed the announcement by the United Kingdom (UK) government to remove South Africa from its red list.

The UK has lifted the travel ban it imposed on South Africa following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Addressing the department’s end-of-year media briefing on Tuesday, International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, said the unscientific travel ban had a devastating impact on two-way business, travel and tourism, and families.

“We are pleased that diplomacy is bearing fruits. Some [countries] have already begun lifting these restrictions that are inflicting so much harm on our economy and families,” Pandor said.

Pandor said it is disheartening to note that even after revelations that the Omicron variant had long been in the backyard of many countries who rushed to close their borders, some have “remained silent [with] no further acknowledgement”.

Step in the right direction for SA’s tourism sector

Also commending the UK’s decision to remove South Africa from the red list, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the latest decision to remove 11 African countries from the list means that hotel quarantine is no longer required for those returning to the UK from South Africa, as of 4am on 15 December.

“Today’s announcement by the UK government is a step in the right direction for South Africa’s tourism sector. When South Africa was added to the red list last month, the implementation of hotel quarantine instead of at home quarantine was a huge deterrent for Brits who were considering travelling to South Africa at a time when our tourism industry was just beginning to recover,” Sisulu said.

Sisulu said the Omicron variant is being closely monitored to contain the virus and ensure the appropriate safety measures are in place.

“South African borders remain open, and our government and tourism industry have been working extremely hard to implement safety regulations to ensure that we are ready for all inbound visitors.”

The Minister thanked all tourism stakeholders for their hard work and dedication.

She said the war room is yielding results with the country being removed for the red list.

“The UK announcement has come just in time to allow families and friends to unite over the festive season. We hope to welcome British travellers again very soon.” Sisulu said.