Coronavirus Fears Impact Outbound Travel In SA


South African travellers are becoming increasingly concerned about travelling internationally due to increasing reports about the spread of Coronavirus. According to the Members of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) these concerns have affected travel bookings.

ASATA confirm that, in particular, leisure travel has been affected. Some holidaymakers are choosing alternative destinations to Asia, deferring their travel or cancelling their travel plans, as the situation is evolving rapidly, and its potential impact is unknown.

Otto de Vries ASATA CEO says travel suppliers such as cruise lines, airlines and tour operators have implemented proactive measures, such as rerouting itineraries, cancelling flights to affected areas, increasing their health precautions and enforcing travel restrictions to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.

“In some cases, cruise lines and airlines are waiving their cancellation and change penalties outright to accommodate passengers who choose to cancel or defer their travel plans. There is no question that there will be an impact to the outbound travel sector as the wider public gets to grips with how and where the virus is spreading.”

Take Necessary Precautions

However, South Africa’s outbound travel sector has been equipping travellers, who are choosing to travel, with information on what precautions to take, based on those outlined by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

The NICD has also advised the industry that, while travellers should think twice about travelling to China, travel to other destinations should be fine provided the necessary precautions are taken. 

For those who do choose to travel, ASATA has advised travellers to ensure they have the right travel insurance and to know what their policy includes so that if they need to cancel or defer their travel, they are covered appropriately.

South African travellers, who are returning from their holiday or business trips, can be assured that currently there are no travel or trade restrictions to South Africa, and that any passenger found to be ill or exhibiting fever symptoms on arrival will be reviewed at airport clinics.

Corporate Travel Still On Track

ASATA members confirm that, although China is a major trading partner of South Africa, corporate travel has been less affected than leisure travel.

Some business travellers and groups are however choosing to cancel or defer their travels to certain Asian destinations until more clarity can be obtained.

“We urge any leisure or corporate traveller to speak to their travel expert and ascertain what their options are. We will continue to advise our members proactively on the situation on the ground, so that travellers can be informed responsibly about the spread of Coronavirus and the precautions they need to take when travelling,” concludes de Vries.


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