South Africa calls for international travel bans to be scrapped | News

South Africa minister of tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu, has confirmed the country remains open to tourism despite the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant.

Authorities in the UK temporarily banned flights and reintroduced quarantine for arrivals from a number of destinations in southern Africa in response to the discovery.

Japan, Israel and the European Union have all also moved to impose stricter measures against South African travellers.

The response was branded “disappointing” by officials in South Africa.

Sisulu explained: “While this is most disappointing South Africa will continue working with policy makers in the UK, Japan, Israel and European Union to ensure that the best possible interventions are put in place.

“I would like to commend the South African scientists on their diligence and all the work they have done and remain confident that all measures will be put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

She added: “We remain open for business and tourism travel, and we appreciate the continued support from various partners across the world and are confident that through the tourism recovery plan in place, we will reignite demand and once more be tourism strong.”

South Africa president, Cyril Ramaphosa, earlier condemned travel bans enacted against his country and its neighbours over the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

He said he was “deeply disappointed” by the action, which he described as unjustified, and called for the bans to be urgently lifted.

Omicron has been classed as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Kgomotso Ramothea, acting hub head at South African Tourism for the UK and Ireland added: “The news of South Africa being put back on the UK red list is devastating for the tourism industry which was just beginning to get back on its feet.

“We were starting to make progress in welcoming visitors back to our wonderful country as we headed into the destination’s summer season.

“We respect the UK government’s need for caution around the new variant, however we are disappointed that South Africa will again be missing out on tourism during the peak season this year which will further delay tourism recovery.

“We would urge the UK government to reconsider current managed quarantine rules to ones that will cause minimal disruption to travel plans while ensuring that people are equally as protected.”

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Travel UK update live: Red list likely to be scrapped today

The government is expected to announce further changes to the UK’s red list today, with the seven-strong list of countries expected to be heavily reduced or scrapped altogether.

Leaks from government indicate the nations will be removed from the red list, ahead of both the Cop26 climate summit and World Travel Market, the UK’s prime travel industry event.

The red list would continue to exist in case new variants appear, but changes could also be announced that would allow travellers from any new red list nations to self-isolate at home rather than a quarantine hotel.

Such a move would align the UK with many other European countries and ease the barriers to travel – but people in quarantine hotels will be expected to complete their 11-night stays.

Three weeks ago ministers cut the number of nations on the red list from 54 to just seven.

In other news, airline bosses have slammed the government’s decision to raise APD (Air Passenger Duty) on long-haul flights in yesterday’s Budget, with Iata director general Willie Walsh calling it a “cash grab masquerading as a green tax the week before COP26”.

Follow the latest travel news below:


Chancellor defends cut in flights tax

Rishi Sunak has defended the cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD) that will incentivise flying on UK domestic flights.

In the Budget, the chancellor announced that APD on domestic flights will halve from £13 to £6.50 from 2023.

Speaking on BBC Today, Mr Sunak said the tax cut would be “largely offset” by the introduction of a new ultra-long-haul APD band – even though the government’s own figures show that the overall tax take will decline by £35m in the first full year.

Simon Calder28 October 2021 08:38


Airline boss fury as APD hike announced for long-haul

The aviation industry has reacted strongly to yesterday’s news that Air Passenger Duty (APD) will rise for long-haul flights.

The increase of to £91 for an economy class flight above 5,500 miles will affect trips to key Asian and Latin American cities, including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) described the move to increase tax on flights over 5,500 miles as a “Halloween horror for long-haul travellers”. The organisation called the move “political posturing that undermines the industry’s net-zero commitments”.

Meanwhile, Iata director general Willie Walsh calling it a “cash grab masquerading as a green tax the week before COP26”.

Simon Calder28 October 2021 08:23


Could the red list be scrapped today?

Leaks from government indicate that all seven remaining nations could be removed from the red list later today, ahead of both the Cop26 climate summit and World Travel Market, the UK’s prime travel industry event.

Reports suggest the red list will continue to exist in case new variants appear, but changes could also be announced that would allow travellers from any new red list nations to self-isolate at home rather than a quarantine hotel.

Such a move would align the UK with many other European countries and ease the barriers to travel – but people already in quarantine hotels would be expected to complete their 11-night stays.

However, some industry figures have suggested the “popular” red list will remain.

Simon Calder28 October 2021 07:55


Good morning

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel live blog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest updates.

Lucy Thackray28 October 2021 07:49

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Travel exemptions to leave Australia officially scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers from November 1

The federal government has removed the need for fully vaccinated Australians to ask for permission to leave the country from Monday, but those who are unvaccinated will still have to ask for an exemption if they want to leave.

When the government closed the international border in March last year it also barred Australians from leaving the country unless they had an exemption.

It was able to make the rules under the Human Biosecurity Determination — a law created to protect the population from people bringing COVID to Australia from overseas.

Last night, Health Minister Greg Hunt changed the Determination so that from November 1, anyone who was fully vaccinated could leave as they pleased.

“Australian citizens and permanent residents who want to travel overseas will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with a [Therapeutic Goods Administration]-approved or recognised vaccine, with the second dose occurring at least seven days prior to travel,” he said.

“These changes will also facilitate travel by children under 12 years of age.”

The TGA has approved four vaccines for use in Australia — Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (now known as Vaxevria) and Johnson and Johnson.

But it has also listed several from other countries including China, India and Russia that it has recommended be recognised as vaccines that provide protection against COVID-19.

Mr Hunt said the change was the first stage in Australia’s international reopening, with the second stage focused on allowing international students and critical workers back into the country.

As for those who have not been vaccinated, they will still have to apply to leave the country and say why they want to travel.

They will also be subject to passenger caps when they return to Australia and undertake 14 days in hotel quarantine.

The November 1 date coincides with the changes to quarantine arrangements in New South Wales, with fully vaccinated travellers no longer required to undertake any quarantine.

As well as the changes to exemptions, the government has also clarified the rules around pre-flight testing for people wanting to come back to Australia, from 72 hours to a general three-day rule. 

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Greg Hunt confirms international arrivals cap to be scrapped when Australia opens to travel

After more than 18 months, the Health Minister has confirmed international arrivals caps will be scrapped.

Thousands of Australians could be home by Christmas, with international travel caps to be scrapped when borders reopen and a phase to home quarantine begins.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed on Monday morning that with the news NSW is planning to fast-track international travel as early as the end of this month, that would mean the end of caps for Australians trying to return home – provided their home is in NSW.

“The reason we’re so keen is not just to ensure people can travel overseas and reunite with their family and friends and loved ones but also to ensure people are able to come back,” Mr Hunt told Radio National.

“They have carried part of the burden (during the pandemic). I acknowledge that.

“That has kept us safe but now we can bring them home. We can remove the caps for those returning Australians if they can get home quarantine.

“We want to see everybody home as quickly as possible.”

Mr Hunt said Australia was “very used” to home quarantine.

“With people crossing state borders, people home quarantining because they are a close contact,” he said.

“That’s a system that’s well established and well tried.”

Mr Hunt’s comments come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a plan on Sunday to fast-track reopening NSW’s international border following a discussion with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.

“I know the NSW government is looking at ways to fast-track home quarantine in November, and if that happens we will be able to move to facilitate the opening up of the international border into NSW sooner,” Mr Morrison said on Sunday.

“Now, that would mean home quarantine for vaccinated Australians wishing to return home via Sydney and giving the option for international travel for vaccinated Australians to leave and return.”

It is understood the state could open its borders and transition from hotel quarantine to home quarantine on November 1.

Other states could keep strict restrictions on their international borders – including on arrival caps and hotel quarantine – until they reach 80 per cent full vaccination coverage.

States like Queensland and Western Australia have hinted their international borders could remain closed for even longer.

While Australian citizens and permanent residents will be the only people able to access the scheme at first, it could ramp up to include skilled workers and international students from next year.

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WTTC calls for UK red list to be scrapped | News

The UK government must scrap its existing travel policy in order to boost the economic recovery, argues the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The body argues the recovery of the sector has been hampered by the lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and slower vaccination rates in some parts of the world, which are still in place in many regions of the world.

In 2019, the tourism sector generated nearly US$9.2 trillion to the global economy, however, in 2020, the pandemic brought the sector to an almost complete standstill.

This resulted in a 49 per cent drop, representing a punishing loss of nearly USD$4.5 trillion.

While the global economy is set to receive a modest 30 per cent year on year increase from tourism in 2021, this will only represent US$1.4 trillion and is mainly driven by domestic spending. 

The economic modelling was conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of WTTC and calculated a baseline scenario based on the current global vaccination rollout, consumer confidence and relaxed travel restrictions in some in regions around the world.

The research reveals that at the current rate of recovery, the contribution of tourism to the global economy could see a similar moderate year on year rise of 32 per cent in 2022.

Last year, WTTC revealed the loss of a staggering 62 million tourism jobs around the world and with the current pace of recovery, jobs are set to rise by only 0.7 per cent this year.

Similarly, research shows a more hopeful potential year-on-year jobs rise across the sector next year, by a positive 18 per cent.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “Our research clearly shows that while the global tourism sector is beginning to recover from the ravages of Covid-19, there are still too many restrictions in place, an uneven vaccine rollout, resulting in a slower than expected recovery of just under a third this year.

“The UK prime minister has an opportunity to help revive the sector faster by removing the UK red list policy and enabling stress free international travel for all of those fully-vaccinated.”

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Amber list scrapped as England overhauls travel rules

Barry Neild and Katharina Krebs, CNN

The UK government announced Friday it is simplifying its controversial traffic light travel rules and removing mandatory Covid tests for vaccinated travelers returning to England from countries on its safe list.

Grant Shapps, the UK transport minister, said in a series of Twitter posts that as of October 4, the current red-amber-green country lists that govern arrivals into England would cease to exist. In their place will be a “simpler” red list of no-go destinations.

The new system will help in “striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority,” Shapps said.

In addition, he said, eight countries will be removed from the red list on October 22, including Turkey — a popular destination for UK vacationers — Bangladesh, Egypt, the Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

The UK will no longer require pre-departure tests before arrival into England for fully vaccinated travelers coming from non-red list countries starting from October 4, said Shapps.

“From later in October, (fully vaccinated travelers) will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow,” he added, referring to the test required two days after arriving in England.

Travelers who test positive for Covid-19 will have to quarantine and take a confirmatory PCR test at no additional cost, “which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants,” according to the statement published by UK government on Friday.

According to Shapps, the updated measures are aimed at reducing costs and are possible due to the higher levels of vaccination in the country.

“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than 8 in 10 adults vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape,” said Shapps in a statement.

‘Two steps behind’

The move, which does not cover international arrivals to the other UK nations — Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales — is likely to be welcomed by travelers and the wider travel industry, however, some say it doesn’t go far enough.

“Across the entire pandemic, the UK’s travel rules have been two steps behind the rest of Europe,” says Willie Walsh, the director general of the International Air Transport Association. “This has devastated the UK’s travel industry with countless job losses.

“While the measures announced today are a move in the right direction, there is no reason to delay scrapping the wasteful and ludicrously expensive PCR testing regime for fully vaccinated travelers. If it’s the right thing to do, let’s get on with it.”

Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, also praised the move but called for more action

“The Travel & Tourism sector has been rocked by the pandemic losing 62 million jobs globally,” she said in a statement. “We are pleased to see the back of an illogical traffic light system that caused confusion and distress for travelers. This move to ease restrictions and open up more key destinations, will help restore consumer confidence and get the UK moving again.

She added: “While this is certainly a step in the right direction, for the UK to be real leaders, the government should adopt a system based on the risk of individuals, not countries. Placing whole countries on red lists is illogical if you can keep the UK safe by checking an individual’s status and allowing fully jabbed people to travel almost anywhere in the world safely.”

Top image credit: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Claudia Rebeza, Francesca Street and Rob North contributed to this story

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Roaming charges Europe: Which mobile companies have scrapped fees? | Travel News | Travel

So this means travellers with phone plans based here in the UK will be treated like any other from outside the EU.

This also means operators can reintroduce charges on making calls, sending texts and using your data while on the continent.

The Government released guidance on July 13, 2020, which reads: “From January 1, 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.”

The Brexit agreement summary says the deal “contains measures to encourage cooperation on the promotion of fair and transparent rates for international mobile roaming”.

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