Greetings from South Africa to our travel partners in India! As the world is slowly starting to open up again, and South Africa is eagerly anticipating the day when we can open our doors to visitors again, we thought it was important to send you an update from our side. Please read our latest article which details the current situation in South Africa with regards to travel within the country, international tourism re-opening and the measures that are being taken to ensure the health and safety of future visitors to the country. We’ve also shared how we at Southern Africa 360 believe travel will change once our borders open and what can be considered new and different for Indian visitors to South Africa. In addition we have selected a few of our new sample packages for you to review, please see below.
What is the current situation in South Africa with regards to travel within the country and international tourism re-opening?
It is still unclear as to when South Africa will re-open its borders to international travel as the country’s Risk-Adjusted Strategy is based on levels of lockdown, not dates. South Africa is currently in Lockdown Level 3, with Level 5 being the highest and strictest level and Level 1 being the least restrictive.
Under the current Lockdown Level 3 the following travel related activities are allowed:
- Business Travel between cities and provinces, permits for this travel need to be carried.
- Essential Travel is also allowed and includes moving to a new place of residence, caring for an immediate family member, attending a funeral, students returning to school and to obtain medical treatment.
- Domestic scheduled flights are currently operating between the golden triangle airports – Johannesburg OR Tambo, Cape Town and Durban. Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Upington Airports are also open with limited flights and East London and George Airports will be re-opening towards the end of July. Flights are strictly for business travel only and permits are required when booking and checking in for a flight.
- Car rental and long-distance public transport is allowed for inter-provincial travel for those who are approved to travel.
- Accommodation is open for business travellers. Many of the large hotel groups have been open for business travel in the major cities since 01 June, under strict health and safety protocols, for example the Radisson Hotels and many of the Tsogo Sun Hotels. There are also a number of smaller accommodation establishments, for example B&Bs and guest houses that have opened up, particularly in the smaller towns and cities such as Hermanus, George and Knysna.
- Restaurants are allowed to open for pick-up or delivery and have also recently been allowed to have sit-down customers, with strict protocols in place, including screening, sanitising, social distancing, wearing of masks when not eating and limited numbers according to the size of the venue.
- Conferences and meetings with less than 50 people are allowed for business purposes, but events must also adhere to strict health protocols and social distancing measures.
- Casinos are allowed to open provided that the number of persons allowed in the casino does not exceed 50 percent of the available floor space, with patrons maintaining a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other. There must be strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.
- Most South African National Parks that cater for self-drive excursions are open, under strict regulations. Self-drive game drives for example in Kruger National Park are only allowed for people from the same household and the number of people per vehicle should not exceed 70% capacity. There are strict gate quotas in place, approximately 1/3rd of what they were, therefore pre-booking is essential.
The risk-adjustment strategy for the phased re-opening of tourism has been co-ordinated by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), with input and collaboration with all industry role players, including accommodation and transport associations and SATSA. We are currently in the Preparation Phase, to be followed by a Phase 1 trial phase where safe source markets with similar risk profiles and stages of pandemic are allowed to travel to South Africa. These travellers would be vetted (this could include for example completion of questionnaires and health checks prior to travel), all stringent safety protocols would be in place and the focus would be on low-contact product and low-risk areas, traditionally with low density.
In Phase 2, South Africa would further open key markets, expand the experiences on offer, until in Phase 3 air access is opened fully and the destination can restart its longer-term growth strategy. At the same time, South Africa will have to focus on continuing to create an enabling environment for tourism, which looks at more visa waivers, a robust eVisa system and air liberalisation. This is exceptionally good news for the Indian travel market to South Africa where visas have historically been a barrier to travel.
What measures are being taken by the South Africa tourism industry to ensure the health and safety of future visitors to the country?
The South African tourism industry has put in place stringent health-focussed protocols to guide and assist stakeholders within the travel and tourism value-chain including staff, travellers and guests. These are aligned with the latest World Health Organization, National Institute of Communicable Disease and Department of Health guidelines and have been approved by the Department of Tourism. Please click here to read more about these.
Some examples of these measures, in summary of what your clients can expect, include:
- Compulsory wearing of face masks – for anyone out in public and for all staff at all facilities at all times
- Wearing of additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff in high contact areas
- Frequent sanitising of high-touch areas
- Frequent sanitising of vehicles and lower carrying capacities
- Screening, temperature checks and hand sanitising when entering buildings and public vehicles
- Hand sanitisers available at strategic touch points and soap available in public bathrooms for hand washing
- Minimal handling and exchanging of cash/cards/travel documentation
- Extensive training to all staff (be this at the airport, at accommodation establishments, transport providers, etc.)
- Procedures to follow should someone have a high temperature or Covid-19 symptoms
- Social distancing signage and Covid-19 monitors to ensure that guidelines are enforced
- Increased check-in times at airports
- Limited/reduced numbers at attractions to allow for social distancing
- Markers to manage queueing
- No buffets at hotels and restaurants – plated/a la carte meals only
What measures will Southern Africa 360 have in place to ensure the health and safety of clients travelling with us?
OUR POST COVID REASSURANCE:
- Meet and Greet at Airports within SA which includes extensive information and briefings on the COVID-19 protocols for the country.
- A Covid-Kit will be given on arrival, including a complimentary 3-layer cloth mask and minimum 80% alcohol 50ml hand sanitizer for each guest
- Screening at hotels and tourist attractions to assist clients
- Daily Temperature checks might be done by hotels and at certain attractions
- Daily sanitising of all vehicles
- Seating capacity in all private vehicles reduced by 30-50% (maximum of 2 pax in a sedan, 4 pax in an 8-seater and 8 pax in a 14-seater vehicle for example)
- Digital vouchers and itineraries sent to guests’ mobile via WhatsApp or email on arrival.
How do we at Southern Africa 360 see travel will change once our borders open?
From our thorough research into post-covid-19 travel, we have found that people will have a longing and new appreciation for nature and the outdoors – space and clean air, opportunities to be active and take part in new, fun and exciting activities. Staying in less crowded places will be important. People will want to spend this travel time with their loved ones – some of who they were cooped up with on lock-down and others they were unable to see for a long time because of lock-down. Core values have shifted from “the biggest and the best” to things that matter and are more important, such as family time and personal health.
Self-drive has always been popular in South Africa as the destination offers a high-quality road network that is safe and easy to drive. We believe self-drive will now become even more important and there will be less emphasis placed on guided and especially group tours. The most popular route for visitors to the country to do on a self-drive basis is the Garden Route, which covers the area between Mossel Bay and Tsitsikamma and includes the popular towns of Oudtshoorn, George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. It is possible to do a circular route starting and ending in Cape Town, alternatively many self-drive trips start in Cape Town and end in George or Port Elizabeth, both of which have airports with good flight connections to other South African cities. The scenic Route 62 between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn was recently named “World’s Best Road Trip Destination” and is also the World’s Longest Wine Route. Have a look at our popular 10-Day Cape Town, Winelands, Hermanus, Garden Route & Safari which sells well in the Indian market.
Cape Town itself is also great to discover on a self-drive basis – exploring the Cape Peninsula route and the surrounding Cape Winelands, Cape Whale Coast and even the lesser known Cape West Coast in the comfort of a self-drive vehicle at a flexible pace. Another region of South Africa that is not commonly seen as a self-drive destination for Indian travellers is the Kruger and Panorama Route areas – this region is an easy 4-5-hour drive from Johannesburg and offers a wide variety of spectacular natural scenery, wildlife and adventure activities. Game drives in Kruger National Park are possible and safe to do on a self-drive basis, higher clearance vehicles are preferable but not essential as many of the roads are tarred. We have a wide range of self-drive touring ideas on our website for you to browse – self-drive trips.
A factor that is very close to our heart and the ethos of our company is responsible travel. In all we do we try to keep the three pillars of sustainable travel in mind – what are we doing to help protect the natural environment, how are we ensuring that local communities are benefitting from tourism and that cultures are being shared in an authentic and experiential way and not eroded or exploited.
Something simple that we as a company do is support as much as possible accommodation and activities in South Africa that are Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) accredited. FTT is a non-profit organisation which supports sustainable tourism development through the award of a certificate to companies that commit themselves to the Fair Trade criteria of fair wages, fair working conditions, just profit sharing and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. This assures visitors that the people whose land, natural resources, labour, knowledge and culture are used to support the tourism activities they are enjoying are actually benefiting fairly from them. We have thus also designed a 10-day Fair Trade Highlights of the Cape package specifically for the Indian market which is 100% FTT. Please also see some of the other Responsible Travel sample packages on our website.
We do also believe that there will still be travellers from India to South Africa who prefer to travel on a private guided basis, and in this situation we will ensure that strict health and safety protocols will be adhered to by our tourist guides and that we firmly keep to regulations regarding number of pax in vehicles, regular sanitising, etc. For this we have an awesome 10-day Highlights of South Africa private-guided holiday.
What is new and different for Indian travellers in South Africa?
Our Indian visitors tend to have a fairly set routing in South Africa, with Cape Town, the Garden Route, a safari and often Sun City being the most popular destinations. However there are many other regions of the country which we believe would be well suited to this market. Kwa Zulu Natal has a lot to offer in the province – excellent game viewing in the Hluhluwe ImFolozi Park and St Lucia Wetlands, an Indian Ocean coastline with warm waters and golden sandy beaches, spectacular scenery and hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains and a familiar Indian culture/heritage with plenty of Indian food available. Have a look at the variety of day trip options from Durban.
The Eastern Cape region makes a great extension to a Cape Town and Garden Route tour, with lots of adventure activities on offer in the friendly seaside city of Port Elizabeth as well as some excellent game viewing in Addo Elephant National Park and its surrounding private game reserves.
The Northern Cape can be considered one of South Africa’s hidden gems, with some unique landscape and landforms, wide open spaces, the mighty orange river, a very different wildlife experience in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and many adventure activities options. Please have a look at one of our favourite itineraries for this province: 7-day Northern Cape Explorer.
As a company we constantly keep track of new and unique activities and excursions that are on offer around the country and also try to experience these for ourselves first, making it easier to sell to our partners! Two such activities which were released shortly before the lockdowns were the World’s Longest Over-Ocean Zipline (1.1km) in Mossel Bay and a new hot air balloon adventure, also in Mossel Bay. We have also used this quieter time to conduct extensive research in each region to make sure we are familiar with and have contracted rates for every kind of activity and excursion possible, so we can offer your clients as wide a variety of options of things to do as possible and to make sure they do not miss out on something special or unique to an area.