The reopening of international borders could not have come a minute too soon for the travel sector. The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) has welcomed the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that international borders would reopen as of 01 October 2020.
“Among the first and hardest hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, travel agencies have been working around the clock to re-accommodate travellers and deal with rapidly changing airline and supplier policies. There is absolutely no question that South African travel agents have been exemplary in these unprecedented times, which have left them with no income and very little support,” says Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA.
With the reopening of borders, travel agencies can now help uplift and strengthen other industries by providing companies, organisations and government with much-needed travel management services. Business travel remains a crucial element for any organisation wanting to grow and expand.
“Without the travel industry, it is not possible for other industries to function, create jobs and contribute to South Africa’s economy. We understand that the way people will travel will change in a COVID world and have been looking at how our business will need to adapt to accommodate these changing demands,” says de Vries.
Most notably, this includes close adherence to robust health and hygiene protocols based on international best practice across the value chain to ensure our industry reopens responsibly and safely.
“With borders reopening, it is essential that our industry adopts these to reassure travellers that they can travel with peace of mind, but also to restart our sector as these protocols will be the currency of trust amongst travellers. “Our role as travel advisors will be to provide accurate information and guidance to travellers in a world of travel that has become decidedly different in a time of COVID. We are pleased we have been given the chance to provide travellers with the support they are going to need when travelling for business or leisure,” concludes de Vries.