The Department of Home Affairs has increased the number of people managing applications for inbound business travel to ensure speedier responses.

“We will try our best to ensure that responses are communicated within 24 hours,” said DHA spokesperson, Siya Qoza.

This follows an appeal by Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, last Monday (October 12) for this to be urgently addressed.

According to him, his office has received complaints from business that emails to this address had not been answered since the reopening of international travel on October 1.

“And so, today I have written to the Minister (Dr Aaron Motsoaledi) to request his urgent intervention to ensure that the appropriate resource is allocated so that business travellers from high-risk countries who apply for permission to travel to South Africa receive a response within at least 24 hours,” said Maynier.

He added that an easier fix, as per his recent submission to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, would be to simply scrap the risk-based approach to international travel and the ‘red-list’ of countries not permitted to travel to South Africa.

This sentiment was reiterated by industry during a SATSA webinar last week in which they pleaded with government to remove the ‘red list’, i.e. the list of high-risk countries from which only business travellers are permitted to enter the country.

CEO of Private Safaris, Monika Iuel, expressed her frustration as she highlighted that four of South Africa’s top-five overseas source markets were on the high-risk list – the UK, the US, France and The Netherlands.

High risk list reviewed

Meanwhile, today (October 19), government has revised the list of high-risk countries based on a risk categorisation model – and it now includes another major source market: Germany.

On a tour operators and DMCs WhatsApp group, a DMC expressed her own frustration: “Great, so now all the efforts of marketing to the German market have been a complete waste of time and money. But hey, let’s now tackle the Austrians and the Swiss. Will common sense ever kick in again?”

“We continue to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and we need to continue to take precautions,” was a DHA spokesperson’s response.

He pointed out that the Ministers of Health, Home Affairs and Tourism were instructed to review the list. “The review of the list of high-risk countries was done in such a way that it strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods.”

He added that the respective ministers recognised that there were a number of regular visitors from mainly European countries who had been accustomed to long periods of visitation to South Africa during the summer season when it is winter in the Northern hemisphere. Most of them own properties in the country.

“We appreciate the significant economic contribution that they make through their activities in the country. To this end, we will also allow visitors, in whichever category, who are coming to stay for a three-month period or more subject to COVID-19 protocols,” said the spokesperson.

Click HERE for the latest list of high-risk countries.