What you can expect from South African travel over the coming months: experts

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The Flight Centre Travel Group says that while the gradual reopening of South Africa’s borders from 1 October is a welcome announcement, travel is set to become much more complex in the months to come.

“Complexity, complexity and more complexity,” said Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group managing director for the Middle East and Africa. “The ever-changing travel regulations and requirements from the different destinations across the world make for a travel landscape that will be difficult to navigate.

“For now, it is clear that business travellers have more freedom than they had in the last six months, while leisure travellers are somewhat more restricted.”

Stark cautioned that while the reopening of the borders is a vital, positive step in the right direction and will allow South Africans to reconnect with their loved ones, the return to travel is not going to be immediate and holidaymakers should not throw all caution to the wind.

Flight Centre said it expects South Africans will start travelling for leisure to regional favourites such as the SADC countries and popular Indian Ocean islands like Zanzibar and Mauritius, first.

Kim Taylor, customer experience director at the Flight Centre Travel Group, said that the list of identified high-risk countries is fluid as data will be checked and adjustments made fortnightly. “Our list of high-risk countries may most likely impact entry regulations for South Africans globally.

“There still remains a grey area surrounding outbound travel for South Africans to high-risk countries that would permit them entry.”

“We’d advise South Africans to book their non-essential leisure travel now for next year. For this year, consider keeping it close to home with regional travel on the African continent and to the Indian Ocean Islands,” said Stark.

Bonnie Smith, general manager of FCM Travel Solutions added regarding business travel: “There is no one-size-fits-all-solution for companies during these times. It is important to take everything into consideration, from traveller sentiment to company budget restrictions and duty of care.”

Oz Desai, general manager of Corporate Traveller, said that the announcement of the opening date for international travel is likely to generate a lot of questions for both companies and business travellers alike.

For example, which destinations will accept South African travellers? Will business travellers be able to minimise exposure while en route? Is the workplace at the destination a safe environment that allows for social distancing? Will employees need to go into quarantine when they return? Does the insurance cover employees sufficiently while away?

“We expect many questions from travellers about the different requirements for travelling in our current reality, especially as details get unpacked,” said Stark.

All travellers will need to adhere to the below protocols:

  • Present a negative Covid-19 test results not older than 72 hours from time of departure;
  • Where a traveller has not done a Covid-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost for the period of ten (10) days;
  • All travellers will be subjected to screening by Port Health Officials upon arrival and departure;
  • All travellers detected with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat Covid-19 test is conducted at their own cost;
  • Every traveller must have mandatory travel insurance;
  •  All travellers to complete Traveller Health Questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the Port of Entry;
  • Beside the health protocols, travellers will still be subjected to other formal border processes. All travellers should wear masks at all times whilst within the Ports of Entry controlled area; Port officials to ensure that port users adhere to social distance as part of queue management protocol.

Airport rules 

Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) said in a note on Thursday that it is ready to welcome international flights for the first time since the country went into a national lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The group said it has slowly but steadily seen the number of flights per day increase. Currently there are an average of 52 arriving and departing flights a day.

Key operational information you need to know when using the airport:

  • The wearing of masks and sanitisation is mandatory for all visitors to the airport and passengers are encouraged to use gloves and maintain appropriate social distancing;
  • Passengers travelling on domestic flights must arrive at least two hours ahead of their flight given all the safety protocols which are required;
  • Passengers travelling on international flights must arrive at the airport at least three and a half hours before departure of their flight;
  • Meeters and Greeters will only be allowed into the airport at Level 0. Currently meters and greeters will not be permitted into the terminal building;
  • All international passengers to arrive with a Covid clearance form.
  • All travelers are being asked to install the Covid alert South Africa mobile app;
  • Airline Lounges will not be open in Level 1 until the international processes are stabilised and volume increases are adequately monitored;
  • The Transit Facility will remain closed;
  • All persons entering the airport will be screened (including airport personnel and passengers); and
  • All airport personnel will make use of prescribed personal protective equipment

Read: Here is the full list of high risk countries that won’t be allowed to visit South Africa



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