South Africa: A Shot At Travel And Passport To Tourism Recovery?

Yeshiel Panchia
Published 1 year ago
close up hand of doctor put label covid-19 vaccine sticker on vaccination certificate card and passport

With the recent launch of its vaccine certification program, and increased travel demand from the United Kingdom, South Africa hopes for a sustained recovery of the tourism industry.

South Africans who wish to travel internationally or gain access to certain establishments now can obtain a vaccination certificate, providing them valid proof of vaccination status.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced the vaccination certificate program in a televised national address two weeks ago.

The certificates were officially launched late last week with the online system stable and functioning as of today. The system allows fully vaccinated individuals to enter their personal details and Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) code, which is then processed and allows the user to download a final, digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate. At a press briefing on Friday last week, Minister of Health Joe Phaahla said the certificates will be a “tool to enable vaccinated people to access opportunities that service providers will make available in sport and recreation, for discounts, prizes, entertainment and music festivals”. While the Department of Health has not indicated exactly what the certificates will be used for within the country, the rollout coincides with the removal of South Africa from the United Kingdom’s ‘red list’ list for travel, once again allowing nationals and travelers from the country to re-enter South Africa without expensive quarantine should they be able to provide their proof of vaccination. “It’s good that the UK finally came to its senses and removed South Africa from the red list… we are now seeing an increased level of interest from the UK into South Africa,” says the CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, to FORBES AFRICA.

The South African government concurred. “We are delighted to see the UK restrictions on travel to South Africa lifted, following a successful vaccine rollout in South Africa, and continued decline in new Covid-19 cases” said Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in a press statement.

South Africa’s issuing of vaccination certificates for travel is in line with the actions of other nations such as Canada and Australia, which are either planning or already implementing trial versions of similar vaccine passports.

With at least a third of all South African adults having received one vaccine dose, hope is high that with reduced Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations, as well as the easing of travel restrictions, the tourism industry is on the path to recovery. ‘We are seeing the airlines booking slots,” says Tshivhengwa. “We are seeing tours being rebooked, and many other things that are starting to come into play in terms of the demand. We just hope that it’s sustainable, and we have to work on its sustainability to make sure that there is longevity in terms of this demand.”