South Africa’s removal from the UK travel red list on October 11 led to a flood of travel inquiries and bookings, according to the Flight Center Travel Group (FCTG).
In the hours and days following the announcement, the group said the UK had quickly become the most booked international destination for South Africans.
He noted that Mauritius and Dubai had been the two most booked international destinations for South Africans before UK travel restrictions were relaxed.
Mauritius opened its country to travelers on October 1, 2021, with fully vaccinated South Africans being allowed to stay in any hotel, resort or accommodation of their choice and to roam freely around the island.
Unvaccinated travelers must undergo 14 days of quarantine at a state-designated quarantine facility. The United Arab Emirates opened travel to South Africans at the end of June. Passengers are required to pass a PCR test before departing and upon arrival at Dubai International Airport.
“We have been inundated with travel requests to the UK since the UK government’s long-awaited announcement on Thursday evening,” said Andrew Stark, managing director of FCTG.
âThere has been a massive increase in inquiries and bookings through our retail travel booking channels and brands, including our website, our Flight Center stores and through Flight Center Independent. “
The number of new plane tickets issued from South Africa with London as the final destination has quintupled since October 7, said Sue Garrett, general manager of procurement, pricing and marketing at FCTG.
âThe majority of airline tickets booked were for departures in November and December 2021. We estimate that many of these bookings are for South Africans who are finally planning to reunite with family and friends during the December and January holidays, âshe said.
Passengers do not need to self-quarantine upon arrival in the UK, provided they have proof of their vaccination status.
Travelers must have received a full course of one of the following vaccines at least 14 days prior to arrival in the UK:
- Oxford / AstraZeneca
- Pfizer BioNTech
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
In addition to the UK’s red list announcement on Monday, the Russian Federation opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from South Africa this week.
Russian regulations state that a PCR test is required within 72 hours of arrival and online check-in no later than 48 hours before arrival.
A mapping tool developed by the Skyscanner travel website shows that as of October 14, South Africa has 65 “major restrictions” from other countries. This represents an increase from around 60 significant restrictions before the third wave of Covid.
These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or are only possible if you are a citizen / meet strict entry requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 39 moderate restrictions for South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travelers meet specific entry requirements, including passing Covid-19 tests.
Read: South Africa to receive updated vaccine certificate in late October – here are 9 more things to know