Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has expressed disappointment at the government of the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to place South Africa on its red list travel ban following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant.
“While this is most disappointing, South Africa will continue working with policymakers in the UK, Japan, Israel and [the] EU to ensure that the best possible interventions are put in place.
I would like to commend South African scientists on their diligence and all the work they have done and remain confident that all measures will be put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus,” said the Minister in a statement on Friday.
The UK – together with Japan, Israel and the European Union – have all moved to place stricter measures against South Africans travelling to their part of the world.
The move came a few hours after South Africa’s Health Department announced the discovered B.1.1.529 Coronavirus variant.
Sisulu said South Africa remains open for business and tourism travel.
“We appreciate the continued support from various partners across the world and are confident that through the world and through the tourism recovery plan in place, we will reignite demand and once more be tourism strong.”
For the sector, she said the virus continued to have devastating effects.
The Minister said the decision by the three governments and the EU pre-empted the World Health Organisation’s advice on next steps of course following the discovery of the variant.
Meanwhile, Sisulu is due to attend the 24th Session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in Madrid, in Spain from 30 November to 3 December 2021.
During this session, the Minister will engage her counterparts and assure the world that South Africa is open for tourists and that measures are in place to ensure their safety.