South Africa: Minister Lindiwe Sisulu welcomes EU countries’ decision to remove AS from red lists

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has welcomed the decision by EU countries to remove South Africa from red lists following the discovery of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

“While these measures are welcome, they come after the peak of the tourist season and following more than a billion rand lost in canceled bookings following the reimposition of travel bans at the end of November. We welcome visitors of the EU in our country and are assured that their safety is guaranteed,” said Minister Sisulu.

“We remain grateful and open and appreciate the continued support of various partners around the world.”

Minister Sisulu also thanked tourism stakeholders who have lobbied her to ensure that South Africa is removed from all red lists.

“This is the culmination of sustained advocacy efforts and the dedication of all tourism stakeholders. The war room we have set up is delivering results. Let’s continue to work hand in hand to revive our industry,” said Minister Sisulu.

Member states of the European Union yesterday agreed to lift the ban on air travel on South Africa and other southern African countries, which will allow more travel to resume.

Travelers from the region will still be subject to the health measures applicable to travelers from third countries.

European nations had suspended most air travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as scientists raced to assess the severity of the omicron variant. The bloc maintained the limits even after cases continued to rise around the world, despite an outcry from the region.

International – South Africa welcomed 10.2 million international overnight visitors in 2019. In 2020, this figure dropped sharply to 3.2 million, almost 70% less than in 2019 The number of inbound visitors in 2021 hampered by travel bans remained low.

For the tourism sector, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have devastating effects.

According to the Tourism and Migration Report released by Statistics South Africa in May 2021, international arrivals to South Africa have declined significantly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the period January to March 2020, South Africa received a total of 2,429,177 tourist arrivals. In 2021, South Africa received only 386,937 tourist arrivals, indicating an 84.1% (2,042,240) decline in international tourist arrivals.

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