South Africans dreaming of cloudy summer days walking alongside the Thames have once again had their dreams dashed as the UK government has opted to keep SA on its infamous Red List for travel.
As South Africa reopens its borders and welcomes tourists back with open arms, it appears the British will not be part of the welcome-back brigade. This has, and will continue to have, a significant impact on tourism within South Africa as the United Kingdom remains a key market.
According to Business Insider, more than 430 000 travellers from the UK were making their way to a pre-COVID South Africa. However, this dropped by a whopping 97% in 2020, with less than 8 000 travellers from the UK heading to our shores. What’s more, South Africa’s economy has lost R790 million for every month it’s been on the red list.
Travel between the two countries has been restricted since the creation of the UK’s traffic light travel system, which categorises countries into three lists – red, green, or amber.
Various organisations across the country, including the Cape Town tourism board, have been hard at work to ensure SA is removed from the list. Unfortunately, their efforts have been futile, with Minister Naledi Pandor stating after the UK’s shocking announcement: “We firmly believe there is no reasonable basis for keeping South Africa on the red list and I am very disappointed.”
The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association has been vocal about the “puzzling” move, describing it as a “kick in the teeth for 1.5 million South African tourism workers who were relying on UK visitors this spring.”
“There isn’t a shred of scientific evidence to support keeping South Africa on the red list. The only conclusion left is that the (UK Government) has an irrational fear of South Africa which is prejudicing decision-making. They need to urgently reconsider this classification to avoid irreparable harm to a relationship with a key ally and trading partner.”
The situation has left many South Africans exasperated and confused as the UK government’s announcement on Friday, September 17, included the removal of eight countries, including Bangladesh, Kenya and the Maldives, from its red list, reports IOL.
The move has resulted in numerous online petitions, including one from the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association. The “Red List” Petition has already gathered 35 000 signatures.