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Yes, you can travel for leisure – tourism bodies

The Tourism Minister is wrong, the President is right: you may travel intra-province for leisure and stay overnight at accredited and licensed accommodation under amended Level 3 regulations.

This is the consensus among several tourism industry organisations following mass confusion after Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane contradicted President Cyril Ramaphosa.

During Ramaphosa’s national address on June 17 he announced the reopening of intra-province leisure travel, and clearly stated “accredited and licensed accommodation” may resume economic activities. He emphasised that inter-province and domestic air travel would remain closed to leisure travellers, remaining open only to essential business travellers, while home-sharing accommodation, such as Airbnb, is also not permitted. 

The President’s address was followed by a government gazette stating that “a person may leave his or her place of residence to travel for leisure purposes as allowed under Alert Level 3”.

However, last Friday (26 June) Kubayi-Ngubane said South Africans are only allowed self-drive day trips within their resident provinces and may not stay overnight, as hotels, lodges and guesthouses are still only permitted to host business travellers. 

Amidst the confusion, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), the Association of South African Travel Agents (Asata) and newly formed organisation South Africa is Travel Ready (SAITR) have all stated that it is their strong view that the gazetted regulations allow intra-province leisure travel, including overnight stays.

“As the association that represents over 90% of the retail travel sector, we fully endorse the TBCSA’s interpretation of the recently released COGTA regulations, which allow for intra-provincial (within province) domestic leisure overnight stays (excluding home-sharing), provided the requisite health and safety protocols are instituted by formally accredited and licenced accommodation”, said Otto de Vries, Asata CEO.

 Until written confirmation is received to the contrary, Asata is following TBCSA’s lead by interpreting and operating within the regulations that have been gazetted into law. This means travel agencies, including Sure Travel agencies across South Africa, are once again offering domestic travel self-drive and/or accommodation packages. 

“Our Sure travel consultants are fully aware of all the rules and will provide regulation and safety information to ensure our customers travel with peace of mind. It’s time to explore and discover beautiful South Africa," said Vanya Lessing, Sure Travel CEO.

Reopen safely to save jobs

Meanwhile, Asata reiterated the travel industry’s call for a responsible phased reopening of tourism. “President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged the delicate balance between saving lives and preserving livelihoods in his address to the nation earlier in June,” said de Vries. “We take the responsibility of safeguarding lives, while also preserving jobs, very seriously in the travel sector. To that end, we have instituted robust safety and health protocols based on international best practice to ensure our industry reopens responsibly and safely.”  

He stressed that the safe reopening of tourism is imperative, as more than a million jobs in South Africa and the livelihoods of the communities that these jobs support are at stake. “We must reopen as soon as we possibly can to save these, keeping a firm focus on doing so safely.”

To book your intra-provincial self-drive trip, contact your nearest Sure Travel agency, call 0862 47 48 49, or view a selection of offers available here

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