Friday, 30 July 2021 14:09

Open letter to Boris Johnson: ‘Why are we still on the red list?’

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South Africa – and most of southern and East Africa – remains on the UK’s red list and with a steep price tag for a 10-day quarantine if travellers do decide to visit.

This is despite considerable efforts by, amongst others, SATSA, TBCSA, South African Tourism and the UK-based African Travel and Tourism Association to lobby for Britain to revise its red list level rating.

Currently it costs £1 750 per person to £2 250 under plans by MPs to stop what they deem “unnecessary” trips to red list countries.

The estimated costs include two PCR COVID tests, transport from the airport to the hotel and all their meals.

Hotelier, Theo Cromhout, who describes himself as “a humble South African innkeeper struggling to survive and protect a significant number of passionate staff that relies on the Brits travelling to our shores” has written an impassioned open letter to British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, asking him to downgrade SA’s risk level.

Here is his letter in full:

Dear Prime Minister,

“It’s Sunday afternoon and as I sit flicking channels between the British Grand Prix and the British Open Championship, both enjoying full stadiums of spectators basking in the sunshine, I wonder how it is that our hotels and lodges here in South Africa remain empty and closed, because we are unable to attract British travellers from your United Kingdom.

We all celebrate the UK is clearly back to ‘normal’, but it’s staggering why anyone travelling from South Africa is still required to spend 10 days and £2,000 to sit in a hotel room in forced quarantine on your Government’s insistence. Will the British & Irish Lions be required to do the same when they return home in a few weeks?

This senseless policy seems designed only to keep hotels companies alive and operational. Back here in South Africa, that very same policy has contributed to the decimation of an entire tourism industry.

With this policy in place, we will not enjoy the arrival of any British tourists.

As an hotelier, I’m conflicted. It’s heart-warming for any hotelier to see so many ‘heads in beds’, but as our tourism industry, along with millions of people, suffers, I find myself leaning towards the struggle we face.

The irony is tragic.

The very policy that keeps these hotels in business is having a devastating impact on millions of South Africans, all of whom depend on international tourism. Perhaps the large hotel chains welcome your 10-day quarantine policy because it’s helped soften the blow for an industry that’s suffered the most. At least our British colleagues will benefit.

Please forgive my scepticism, but as a country we’re recovering from a decade of state capture and corruption. During the pandemic, our government banned alcohol and tobacco, and in the process brought our wine, restaurant and hospitality industries to their knees.

The pain and suffering experienced daily in South Africa is heart-breaking. I wish you could see first hand the destructive impact on local communities that depend on tourists visiting from your country.

It seems to me that against the backdrop of full stadiums at Wimbledon, Wembley, Silverstone and Sandwich, the only beneficiaries of your two-week quarantine policy are the hotel companies themselves. In the meantime, an entire nation suffers.

While this policy is in place, you prevent your entire country from travelling to our beautiful Rainbow Nation.

You’ve effectively shut down our entire industry. We need your citizens to visit us and spend their valuable currency in our establishments.

In South Africa, we believe in the spirit of “UBUNTU”. It means "humanity" and is sometimes translated as "I am because we are", or "humanity towards others".

I humbly invite you to demonstrate the spirit of UBUNTU.

As our world cries out for normality, I am sure most, if not all UK hotel operators would welcome ‘normal’ trading conditions.

On behalf of millions of South Africans who work in travel, tourism and hospitality, I implore you to scrap this Red List and allow our primary feeder market, the United Kingdom, to visit South Africa. Please don’t make them spend another £2,000 and 10-days in a forced hotel room quarantine. It’s killing us.

As a loyal member of the British Commonwealth, South Africa deserves a little more respect and fairness. I’m sure Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth would agree; she always loved her time here and we hold a special place in her heart.

Now is the time for our political leaders to regain our trust and make the right decisions for the right reasons.

Yours in South African Hospitality.”

Source: TU

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