Published on : Tuesday, September 22, 2020
South Africa has finally decided to reopen its borders to international tourists in October for the first time since its closure back in March. While the country will not be open to every nation for leisure tourism as of now, South Africa is delighted to welcome the visitors who will be allowed to visit the country. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, officially announced the decision and mentioned that the country will ease restrictions on international travel gradually and cautiously and allow travel into and out of South Africa for business, leisure and other travel starting October 1, 2020.
The latest move comes following President Ramaphosa’s announcement last month that the country will move to alert level 1 and open its borders for selected countries, starting October 1. Therefore, South Africa’s reopening will include both inbound and outbound tourism, and allow nationals to travel abroad and tourists from selected countries to enter the nation once again. South Africa was one of the countries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and closed borders to visitors on March 27. After observing months of stringent lockdown measures, the country has successfully flattened the curve and has been reporting lowest number of new cases since May.
The country has already entered national lockdown alert ‘level one’, following a significant decrease in infections. Reopening the borders for both inbound and outbound tourism has been a major priority for the country as it welcomes around 17 million tourists per year and relies largely on the industry. In light of the reopening, South Africa has developed a risk categorization technique for different countries. The model classifies countries across the globe according to a scale of high, medium and low risk.
Countries with higher number of COVID-19 infections and reported deaths as compared to South Africa are considered as high risk countries and countries with less number of coronavirus infections and death rate are considered to be low risk countries. Meanwhile, countries that have a relatively equal number of COVID-19 infections and death toll as South Africa are considered to be medium risk countries. It has also been mentioned that any person from high risk countries who wishes to undertake business travel in South Africa may apply in writing to Minister of Home Affairs, starting this month and highlight their necessity to enter the country from business.
Mr. Sisa Ntshona, Tourism Chief Executive Officer, South Africa said in a statement that though many of the country’s key source markets feature in the high risk category, the environment is fluid and is likely to undergo constant change. He shared that the authorities continue to remain optimistic and encouraged by the gradual and phased opening of the sector and will be monitoring future changes regularly as country lists are reviewed every two weeks. He also mentioned that it is exciting to see that travel is open for the rest of the continent following global trends in changing traveller behavior that is influenced by trust and confidence and where travel starts domestically then regionally and finally moves to the international level.
All international travellers will be required to present a COVID-19 free certificateor a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours from the date of departure from their country. Travellers will also be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms and will also be required to present proof of accomodation, if they need to self-quarantine. The country will open up three international airports- Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport as well as one port. South Africa has also undertaken globally-benchmarked health and safety protocols including wearing of masks, washing of hands, and social distancing measures to ensure the safety of travellers and citizens.