Tourism has an important role to play in placing the South African economy on a sustainable inclusive growth trajectory.
Described as the New Gold, it is a sector that is thriving, and that has tremendous potential for further growth and for the creation of much-needed jobs.
The mandate of the Department of Tourism (DoT), as outlined in the Tourism Act of 2014, is to:
In recognition of tourism as a national priority, with a potential to contribute significantly to economic development, the 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa provides for the promotion of domestic and international tourism.
The National Development Plan recognises tourism as one of the main drivers of employment and economic growth, and envisages the promotion of South Africa as a major tourist and business events destination.
Outcome 4 (decent employment through inclusive growth) and outcome 7 (comprehensive rural development and land reform) of government’s 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework make reference to specific targets towards the realisation of this vision.
On 19 October 2020, the South African Government issued a revised list of high risk countries based on a risk categorization model. Link to read the full statement issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
Link to statements by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Minister of Home Affairs
Travellers intending to visit the country will be expected to produce a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test.
Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.
Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10 day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.
Any person from a country listed as having a high COVID-19 infection and transmission rate, who wish to undertake a business travel into South Africa, may with effect from 01 October 2020, in writing, apply to the Minister of Home Affairs and demonstrate reasons for their request to enter the Republic for business purposes during the period of the national state of disaster.
Such applications must be directed to email Covid19BusinessTravel@dha.gov.za(link sends e-mail) and supported by—
(a) a copy of passport and/or temporary residence visa;
(b) proof of business activities to be undertaken in the Republic;
(c) proof of travel itinerary; and
(d) proof of address or accommodation in the Republic.
People who are not allowed from high risk countries are leisure travellers only. List of high risk countries:
International flights and domestic flights
International flights to and from the Republic, as well as domestic flights within the Republic, are permitted in terms of regulation 75, read with regulation 76(2)(a) of the Regulations.
With effect from 01 October 2020, international passenger flights, inbound to the Republic from the African Continent and from other countries outside the African Continent, as determined in accordance with the list contemplated in regulation 75(4)(b) of the Regulations, are permitted, subject to the following conditions:
(a) A foreign Operator is required to submit procedures that show the level of compliance with South African COVID-19 legislation for approval to the South African Civil Aviation Authority;
(b) foreign Air Ambulance Services are permitted to transport COVID-19 positive patients: Provided that they obtain approval from the Department of Health, obtain a permit issued by the Department of Transport, and comply with the Department of Health Protocols and the Air Ambulance Guidelines issued by the Minister;
(c) passengers are required to wear face masks at all times, may only remove face masks during emergencies or when instructed by cabin crew to take them off and must observe social distancing, hand washing and sanitize regularly;
(d) a child under the age of two years may be exempted from wearing a face mask;
(e) a passenger who is unable to wear a face mask due to an underlying medical condition, must submit a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner to the Operator prior to departure;
(f) crew members are required to wear face masks at all times, except when conducting a safety briefing and during an emergency;
(g) a passenger must provide to the Operator a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction ( “PCR “) test certificate or a valid COVID-19 negative test certificate, obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel, from an accredited laboratory and in line with the World Health Organization requirements: Provided that South African Authorities reserve the right to verify the authenticity of presented PCR or COVID -19 test certificates;
(h) if a passenger is symptomatic, the necessary protocols of the Department of Health will be followed;
(i) in the event of the passenger’s failure, for whatever reason, to submit a certificate as proof of a negative PCR test certificate or a valid COVID -19 negative test certificate upon arrival in South Africa, the passenger shall be subjected to a compulsory quarantine at a government designated facility as contemplated for in Health Directions, at his or her own cost;
(j) an “immunity passport”, “risk-free certificate” or “passport immunity” in respect of COVID -19 is not acceptable;
(k) board any passenger without a valid negative PCR or a valid COVED -19 negative test certificate;
(I) international travel from countries listed as having a high COVID-19 infection and transmission rate, is prohibited, except for business travel, which may be allowed with the approval of the Cabinet member responsible for Home Affairs, in which case such passengers must comply with the requirements listed in paragraphs (c), (e), (g) and (h);
(m) crew members shall upon arrival in South Africa be subjected to health protocols as contemplated for in Health Directions.
(n) an Operator must ensure the following risk mitigation measures for crew members:
(i) Conduct risk assessments to ensure that crew members are fit and proper before they undertake their travel duties and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 crew infections; and
(ii) ensure that crew members are protected whilst on duty;
(o) Operators are allowed to provide catering on-board an aircraft: Provided that they take all risk mitigation, health and safety measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including the provision of pre -packed meals;
(p) a passenger in transit –
(i) must be in possession of a negative PCR test certificate or a valid COVID-19 negative test certificate, obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel, from an accredited laboratory;
(ii) who displays symptoms of COVID-19 must, upon arrival and under the direction of Ports Health-
(aa) be taken through primary and secondary screening, including COVID-19 testing, where applicable;
(bb) be quarantined, at own cost, if result is obtained. All Department of Health protocols and Department of Transport guidelines must be followed; and
(cc) if travelling with family, be quarantined. at own cost, with the whole family; international scheduled and Charter flights carrying passengers are allowed through the following airports:
(i) OR Tambo International Airport;
(ii) King Shaka International Airport; and
(iii) Cape Town International Airport; and
(r) Charter Operators conducting cargo operations from outside the Republic are permitted to operate at the following airports with Ports Health capacity:
(i) Bram Fischer International Airport;
(ii) Cape Town International Airport;
(iii) King Shaka International Airport;
(iv) Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport;
(v) Lanseria International Airport;
(vi) OR Tambo International Airport;
(vii) Polokwane Airport;
(viii) Port Elizabeth International Airport; and
(ix) Upington International Airport.
With regard to international outbound flights –
(a) subject to the travel requirements of a country of destination, a passenger must provide to the Operator a negative PCR test certificate or a valid COVID -19 negative test certificate from an accredited laboratory certified by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority ( “SAHPRA “); and
(b) an Operator is responsible to ensure that passengers comply with COVID -19 requirements of the country of destination.
Domestic passenger flights are permitted at the following domestic airports, as approved:
(a) Bram Fischer International Airport;
(b) Cape Town International Airport;
(c) East London Airport ;
(d) George Airport;
(e) Hoedspruit Airport;
(f) Kimberly Airport;
(g) King Shaka International Airport;
(h) Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport;
(i) Lanseria International Airport;
(j) Margate Airport;
(k) Mthatha Airport;
(I) OR Tambo International Airport;
(m) Phalaborwa Airport;
(n) Pietermaritzburg Airport;
(o) Plettenberg Bay Airport;
(p) Polokwane Airport;
(q) Port Elizabeth International Airport;
(r) Richards Bay Airport;
(s) Sishen Airport;
(t) Skukuza Airport; and
(u) Upington International Airport.
The loading and off -loading of air cargo in and out of International Airports, Designated as Ports of Entry, is permitted.
Foreign crew changes and prohibition of cruise ships calling at sea ports
Foreign crew changes are permitted at all nine commercial ports.
Signing-on crew must produce a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction ( “PCR “) test certificate or a valid certificate of COVID -19 negative test results, obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel, from an accredited laboratory and in line with World Health Organization requirements at the first South African Port of Entry.
In the event of a crew member’s failure to produce a valid PCR test certificate, this will warrant quarantine, at the crew member’s own cost.
Signing -off crews are not required to produce a valid PCR test certificate if the vessel has not had crew changes or has not visited a foreign port within 10 days before arrival at a South African sea port.
(b) A crew member’s failure to adhere to the requirement contemplated in paragraph (a), will warrant quarantine, at the crew member’s own cost.
Foreign crew may layover at a designated quarantine facility for a period not exceeding seven days, at their own cost, but must proceed directly to Ports of Entry once this period has lapsed and must also comply with South African Immigration requirements and Port Health protocols.
Cruise ships are prohibited from calling at any of the South African sea ports, except for the disembarkation of returning-
(a) South African crew;
(b) South African citizens; or
(c) holders of South African permanent residence permits.
Passenger ships visiting South African sea port
All passenger ships for international leisure purposes are prohibited from disembarking any international passengers at any South African sea port.
Passenger ships are allowed to call at any South African sea port only for the following purposes:
(a) Disembarking returning South African citizens and holders of South African permanent residence permits;
(b) replenishing fuel, stores and provisions;
(c) medical evacuation; and
(d) search and rescue.
Registered research foreign vessels and marine safety tugs are allowed to dock at sea ports, subject to mandatory quarantine laws, as may be applicable.
All other cargo vessels must be allowed to dock at sea ports for purposes of cargo works, repairs, replenishing fuel and provisions.
CROSS-BORDER ROAD TRANSPORT
Cross-border road transport passenger services are permitted to operate from 1 October 2020.
Cross-border freight transport and logistics in respect of specified cargo and permitted retail goods to neighbouring countries, which include goods imported through the South African Ports of Entry for re- export to neighbouring countries, is permitted.
Provision of improved access to hygiene and disinfection control at cross-border public transport facilities
All owners of cross-border road transport facilities must, at regular intervals, for the duration of the national state of disaster, sanitise their facilities, and provide adequate sanitisers or other hygiene dispensers for washing of hands and disinfection equipment for users of public transport services.
Owners of cross -border road transport facilities must put measures in place to adhere to social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Embarkation of cross-border road transport vehicles
All cross -border road transport operators must –
(a) ensure that cross -border road transport passenger vehicles are sanitised before picking up and after dropping off passengers;
(b) ensure that all cross- border road transport vehicles are clean and tidy;
(c) ensure that all cross -border road transport vehicles’ doors and window handles, arm rests and hand rails are sanitised after every load;
(d) encourage cross -border road transport passengers to sanitise after entering the vehicle and after getting off the vehicle;
(e) put measures in place to adhere to social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19; and
(f) provide disinfection information materials and procedures.
All drivers of cross-border transport vehicles must wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth.
Any marshal or security officer who interacts with members of the public in a cross -border road transport facility must wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth.
The sanitisers used to sanitise all cross- border road transport vehicles must have a minimum of 70% alcohol content.
No person will be allowed to use any form of cross -border road transport or enter a cross -border road transport facility, building, place or premises if they do not wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth.
For purposes of this regulation “long distance travel” is a trip of 200 km or more.
The Cabinet member responsible for transport must, after consultation with the Cabinet members responsible for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, health, police, trade, industry and competition, and justice and correctional services, issue directions for the resumption of different modes of public transport to cater for the gradual return to work of people, in respect of-
(a) domestic air travel;
(b) rail, bus services, taxi services;
(c) e-hailing services; and
(d) private vehicles.
Bus and taxi services –
(a) may not carry more than 70% of the licensed capacity for long distance travel; and
(b) may carry 100% of the licensed capacity for any trip not regarded as long distance travel in terms of subregulation (1).
A driver, owner or operator of public transport may not allow any member of the public who is not wearing a face mask, to board or be conveyed in a public transport owned or operated by him or her.
The directions to be issued by the Cabinet member responsible for transport must set out the health protocols that must be adhered to and the steps to be followed for the limitation of the exposure of members of the public using public transport to COVID-19.