The Flight Centre Travel Group says that while the gradual reopening of South Africa’s borders from 01 October 2020 is a welcome announcement, travel is set to become much more complex in the months to come.
“Complexity, complexity and more complexity,” says Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group Managing Director Middle East and Africa. “The ever-changing travel regulations and requirements from the different destinations across the world make for a travel landscape that will be difficult to navigate. For now, it is clear that business travellers have more freedom than they had in the last 6 months, while leisure travellers are somewhat more restricted.”
Stark cautions that while the reopening of the borders is a vital, positive step in the right direction and will allow South Africans to reconnect with their loved ones, the return to travel is not going to be immediate, neither should holidaymakers throw all caution to the wind.
The Flight Centre Travel Group expects South Africans will start travelling for leisure to regional favourites such as the SADC countries and popular Indian Ocean islands like Zanzibar and Mauritius, first.
Kim Taylor, Customer Experience Director at the Flight Centre Travel Group stresses that the list of identified high risk countries is fluid as data will be checked and adjustments made fortnightly. “Our list of high risk countries may most likely impact entry regulations for South Africans globally. There still remains a grey area surrounding outbound travel for South Africans to high risk countries that would permit them entry.”
“We’d advise South Africans to book their non-essential leisure travel now for next year. For this year, consider keeping it close to home with regional travel on the African continent and to the Indian Ocean Islands,” says Stark.
Bonnie Smith, GM FCM Travel Solutions adds regarding business travel: “There is no one-size-fits-all-solution for companies during these times. It is important to take everything into consideration, from traveller sentiment to company budget restrictions and duty of care.”
Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller, explains that the announcement of the opening date for international travel is likely to generate a lot of questions for both companies and business travellers alike. For example, which destinations will accept South African travellers? Will business travellers be able to minimise exposure while en route? Is the workplace at the destination a safe environment that allows for social distancing? Will employees need to go into quarantine when they return? Does the insurance cover employees sufficiently while away?
As global travel management companies (TMCs), Corporate Traveller and FCM have done the groundwork and are ready to guide travellers and companies as they take the next step forward. Over the past months, the corporate brands under the Flight Centre Travel Group umbrella have created resources that will help their customers get back on the road safely and with peace of mind.
The Group has recently launched the Traveller Information Hub (https://www.fctgtravelnews.com/) available for all Flight Centre Travel Group customers. The information hub contains the latest air, hotel, and border updates from across the globe, an interactive map to help travellers assess their destination’s risk profile and chatbot assistance for any possible questions.
“We expect many questions from travellers about the different requirements for travelling in our current reality, especially as details get unpacked” adds Stark.
“There has never been a more important time to use a reputable travel company for your holiday bookings or a professional travel management company for your business travel. Ensure you are getting expert travel advice,” concludes Stark.
All travellers will need to adhere to the below protocols:
- Present a negative COVID-19 test results not older than 72 hours from time of departure.
- Where a traveller has not done a Covid-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost for the period of ten (10) days.
- All travellers will be subjected to screening by Port Health Officials upon arrival and departure.
- All travellers detected with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted at their own cost.
- Every traveller must have mandatory travel insurance.
- All travellers to complete Traveller Health Questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the Port of Entry.
Beside the health protocols, travellers will still be subjected to other formal border processes. All travellers should wear masks at all times whilst within the Ports of Entry controlled area; Port officials to ensure that port users adhere to social distance as part of queue management protocol.