South Africa’s tourism sector at risk as government maintains ban on travel from “high risk” nations

South Africa’s government has maintained that leisure travelers from countries with higher coronavirus infection rates will not be allowed to enter the country when the borders reopen on October 1.

The list of countries includes the United States, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, India, the Netherlands and Russia.

However, business travelers from these countries, which are considered by the Pretoria government as “high risk”, will be allowed to enter. Diplomats, repatriated persons and investors fall in this category.

Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told a press conference that, “We will review the data every two weeks. The government is being guided by epidemiological data when deciding which countries are deemed high risk.”

President Cyrial Ramaphosa eased lockdown measures in September. At the height of South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak, the country had one of the world’s strictest lockdown restrictions.

The easing provided relief to its struggling tourism sector with air travel resuming.

While South Africa is the continent’s most industrialized country, tourism remains one of its key contributors of GDP. Last year, the sector made up 9% of the GDP, and employed 750,000 people according to the Tourism Marketing Agency and the Statistics Office.

South Africa is one of the most frequently visited countries in the continent. Last year, more than 10 million foreign visitors entered the country, with 73% of them originating from the United States, United Kingdom, India, the Netherlands and France.

All of these nations are on the “High-risk” category list announced by the government and SA Tourism, the marketing agency, says if that doesn’t change, then 440,000 tourism jobs are at risk.

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