Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has thanked Germany for its “progressive and scientific” decision to remove South Africa from its high-risk country list, stating that it would directly contribute to efforts to recover the tourism sector.
The decision means that vaccinated travellers from South Africa no longer need to have an explanation of the purpose of entry and can travel to Germany, subject to the validity of their passport and Schengen visa.
“This is great news for South Africans who travel for leisure and business. We are looking forward to welcoming back the German tourists to South Africa,” Sisulu said.
She added that Germany had been in South Africa’s top five overseas markets and that the decision to remove it from the red list would go a long way in helping to recover the market losses suffered during the pandemic.
Germany’s removal of South Africa from its high-risk country list became effective shortly after it was announced that South Africa remained on the UK’s ‘red list’, which requires travellers to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status, causing upset to the local business community, including the tourism sector.
The UK is the single biggest overseas country source market for tourists into South Africa with some 440 000 visitors travelling to South Africa in 2019. Furthermore, the UK is the Western Cape’s biggest source market, accounting for almost 15% of foreign tourists visiting the province.
Sisulu said that she had been in touch with the UK deputy high commissioner, who she said explained that South Africa was kept on the red list because of Covid variants.
"The advice that they have been given as the British government is that South Africa, unfortunately, has a variant of Covid which is completely resistant to vaccination and this is the Beta variant," the Minister said.
Sisulu said that it was agreed that South Africa and UK scientists should work together and investigate the matter. There was currently a perception that owing to the variant, South Africa was a Covid hotspot.
Sisulu is currently hosting the African Travel and Tourism Summit, which seeks to rethink and recalibrate the continent’s tourism sector, which has been strangled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sisulu said that figures from August 2017 show the ten leading countries in terms of the number of tourists visiting South Africa from other African countries to be Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Gabon, Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, Congo, Cameroon, and Côte I’voire.