While the US, UK and Europe have begun rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations, South Africa has not only failed to secure a vaccine but also still has no firm strategy to vaccinate the population. A vaccinated population would provide peace of mind to inbound tourists. It would also allow South Africans to travel abroad freely. The South African Government’s failure to timeously secure vaccine is yet another body blow to the already punch-drunk outbound travel and inbound tourism industries.
The successful roll-out of vaccinations is expected to boost travel confidence and reignite the travel and tourism sector globally, but South Africa’s outbound travel and inbound tourism industries are unlikely to benefit from it in the short term, because South Africa lags even its peers in the developing world in terms of a vaccine roll-out.
Hospitality association, FEDHASA, has called on government to prioritise the roll-out of a vaccination programme, noting that the delay in roll-out to the second quarter of 2021, puts South Africa at a significant disadvantage when it comes to restoring confidence in inbound international travel.
Asata ceo, Otto de Vries, told Travel News that the association supported FEDHASA’s call. He said South Africa’s delay was not good news for travel. Moreover, he pointed out that in terms of the roll-out, those most likely to travel were also those who were most likely to be the last to be vaccinated.
He said while it was not known how many countries would choose to enforce a requirement for travellers, Australia at least was talking about it. “It is worrying and it is certainly another motivation for this government to seriously roll up its sleeves and start thinking about how it is going to aggressively tackle the vaccination requirements of 2021.”
Failure to distribute the vaccination speedily to the population could result in South Africans finding their travel options restricted should other countries require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for entry.