South Africa plans to begin a gradual and cautious resumption to opening its borders to international travel on Oct. 1.
President Cyril Ramaphosa warned, however, that travel may be limited to countries that do not have high infection and transmission rates. The list of permitted and prohibited countries has yet to be released.
For those who will be permitted to travel to South Africa, a negative Covid-19 test result no older than 72 hours will be required. Failure to provide this will result in mandatory quarantine at the traveler’s cost. All travelers will also be required to download the Covid-19 Alert App, which enables contact tracing.
With little assistance being offered by the government, tourism officials are reaching out to U.S. travel advisors and tour operators to help promote the destination via social media.
Ramaphosa’s announcement was met with relief by South Africa’s tourism stakeholders who have seen their livelihoods threatened or lost as a result of the pandemic lockdown.
“Tourism can be South Africa’s economic lifeline,” said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. “Every day we have been closed to international travel, we have lost 336 million rand (almost $20 million) 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.”
The government’s decision to reopen to international travel and tourism allows the industry to get back on its feet, said David Frost, CEO of Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, the voice of inbound tourism. “Covid-19 has grounded our world, but tourism will return. And we need to support its full recovery at the earliest opportunity, since it is the single sector with the greatest potential to drive the type of economic growth that South Africa most needs.”