Tourism has suffered a number of setbacks over the past two years, with the impact of Covid and the near collapse of the national carrier. But do you feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel?
We are seeing more signs of recovery and confidence in our markets as some key source markets open up to South Africa, with airline partners once again resuming routes to South Africa.
Major source markets for South Africa, such as the rest of the African continent with the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates, have already lifted their restrictions. We therefore expect international travel to resume soon. We recently welcomed the announcement by the UK government that South Africa has been removed from its red list.
Earlier this year, United Airlines launched daily non-stop service between its New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport, which is an exciting development as it will boost Africa’s efforts. South to continue to develop business events and leisure tourist arrivals outside of North America. Qatar Airways also recently increased its frequency of flights to South Africa to a total of 28 weekly flights between Doha and Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
We were pleased to hear that Kenya Airways and SA Airlink have reached an interline agreement that will expand the reach of the two airlines to several destinations on the African continent, even as countries begin to reopen their borders to travelers. Kenya Airways’ agreement with Airlink will provide its customers with enhanced connectivity through its gateways, Johannesburg and Cape Town, to more than forty cities across Africa.
Under the latter agreement, Kenya Airways customers flying to South Africa will be able to connect with domestic flights operated by Airlink to Windhoek, Durban, Gaborone, Maseru, Pemba, Maputo, Port Elizabeth, among others. Uganda Airlines’ Kampala-Johannesburg link started on May 31 with 4 frequencies per week.
More recently, our national carrier, SAA, has taken off again and has started to fly not only nationally, but also to some key regions of the African continent. This is very welcome and bodes well for the increase in arrivals from the rest of the African region to South Africa.
This month, Etihad Airlines announced after a year-long absence that it would begin flying direct to Johannesburg and Cape Town from November this year with three flights per week on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays.
As a destination marketing organization, we continue to work hard to position South Africa as a safe and welcoming long-haul destination and vaccine deployment is critical in this regard. The government is making progress with the second phase of the ongoing deployment.
A recent trend in tourism has been the growth of inter-African visitors. Do you expect this to continue with the free movement of people under the AfCFTA after the pandemic? What other benefits do you think the AfCFTA will bring to South African tourism?
Yes, we expect this to continue as the rest of Africa is our largest source market with over 70% of our arrivals coming from the rest of the continent. We also know that immigration regulations have been a big part of our barriers, so we are encouraged by the historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
As South Africans, we will never forget that our fellow Africans have contributed to the development of our economy and that of the rest of the continent. Likewise, South Africans contribute to the development of economies across the continent. The continent’s economies are interdependent and we will continue to work together to increase trade and investment that benefits everyone.
All South Africans have a higher appreciation for people from other countries and we know we are not an island. The rest of Africa is a valuable region and market for South Africa. We value our business relationships and the partnerships we have cultivated with all of our travel business partners across the continent and are committed to continuing to invest in markets through joint marketing initiatives to attract travelers to South Africa. .
The increased free movement brought about by the AfCFTA agreement offers Africans the opportunity to explore each other’s countries. We know from our knowledge that most Africans aim to visit an international destination, visit different places, shop and exchange cultures.
We know that those who visited South Africa were drawn to the country by a variety of factors that matched their international travel needs. This means that South Africa is able to offer travelers to that continent what they need in a travel destination.
It’s a big question, but do you think the deployment of the COVID vaccine will have a direct impact on the inter-African tourism market?
Yes I think so. The vaccination campaign and rollout in South Africa along with the introduction of a secure and verifiable vaccination certificate will indeed make travel easier and hopefully help ease travel restrictions on South Africa. South by other countries. It will also help instill confidence in travelers who wish to visit South Africa.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also once again underscored the need for an even closer working relationship between private and public sector tourism actors to revive the tourism sector. We all need to work hard to boost inter-African travel in this regard, so partnerships and collaboration are essential.
Beyond vaccine deployment, a new post-COVID tourism sector needs to rely more on digital, strict health and safety standards, and new ways to prepare for travel, especially for the outdoors. To achieve this and develop inter-African tourism, industry players must work together.
In light of the COP26 summit, how is SA trying to mitigate the environmental impact of its tourism industry?
As a country, we are committed to adopting sustainable and responsible tourism practices. We are an industry committed to having a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate future jobs for the local population.
South Africa is a leader in sustainable and responsible tourism. South African Tourism is a strong supporter of sustainable, eco-friendly and green tourism in the country. Responsible tourism is an integral part of the South African vacation experience.
How important are the creative industries to the development of South African tourism?
The creative industry is an important part of the knowledge economy, promoting economic growth and job creation. Linking creative industries with tourism can stimulate demand and spur innovation in tourism experiences, inspiring a revitalization of tourism products and experiences and making the country more attractive to travelers.
In addition, the creative industry helps to position the scenic beauty of our country, promotes social integration and showcases our culture which is of great interest to travelers at destination. As the tourism industry gradually reopens, it’s really important that we position ourselves in relation to the world in a way that stands out, and one of the best ways to do that is to showcase our culture.
We are already seeing this through the Netflix Cultural Affinity Study, which found that once people see South Africa in a movie or TV series, they are up to 3.1 times more likely to visit South Africa.
It is important that as we come out of the pandemic, we make sure the world knows what we have to offer tourists who want to visit Africa and South Africa. We are a continent filled with a rich tapestry of history, culture and storytelling. Through the creative industry, we can invite the world to experience the South African difference for themselves.
Do you use special measures to ensure the safety of IATF participants?
The large South African tourism industry has worked together to develop a comprehensive guideline on health and safety protocols for the operation of all types of tourism businesses and facilities. The protocols comply with the guidelines and advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Ministry of Health. They cover customer information, personal protective equipment, physical distancing, and disinfection and hygiene practices, among others, for staff and customers.
We ensure the safety of visitors through the continuous and consistent implementation of these protocols. Non-pharmaceutical measures, such as mandatory masks, social distancing, ventilated spaces, and reducing the number of guests in venues have all been legislated to ensure that we prevent the instances of super-spread which are prevalent. party responsible for the spread of COVID-19.
All travelers entering our country must present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their country of origin. All South African airports are fully equipped to ensure the safety of all travelers entering and leaving the country. Upon arrival, all visitors will be tested for any COVID-19 symptoms by Port Health.
This screening includes a questionnaire before disembarking the flight as well as a temperature control. If the traveller’s temperature exceeds 37 degrees Celsius or exhibits symptoms, secondary screening will be performed, at the traveller’s expense. All our airports have visible disinfection stations as well as agents offering passenger disinfection.
All travelers are encouraged to adhere to all COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including hand sanitizing, wearing masks, and social distancing.
The historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement has the potential to create a continental free trade area with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $ 3.4 trillion, according to the African Union ( UA). The AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of the first ten-year implementation plan (2014-2023) under the AU’s Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want.