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Frustration and joy as UK gives green light ahead of Festive Season

Airlines currently flying into South Africa are British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Swiss, Kenya Airways, Egyptair and Turkish Airlines. Picture: Supplied

Airlines currently flying into South Africa are British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Swiss, Kenya Airways, Egyptair and Turkish Airlines. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 19, 2021

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FRUSTRATED traveller Bianca Lutz-Kokuner has described her seven-day quarantine at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, Stansted, in London as “a waste of money, time and energy.”

Lutz-Kokuner is one of the many South African travellers who were forced to spend close to R50 000 to be accommodated in a mandatory 10-day quarantine hotel in the UK after the country implemented strict bans on South African travellers, due to the discovery of the Omicron variant.

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This was the second time the UK placed South Africa on the red list in a period of just two months.

Cape Town International Airport is the second busiest airport in the country and the third one in Africa. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Rosemary Anderson, national chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa), explained that the R1bn lost in the first 48 hours of the red listing at the end of November was a drop in the ocean compared to what had been lost over the past three weeks.

“We are still counting the short, medium and long-term collateral damage that the second red listing caused to many companies that depend heavily on international tourism.

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“Many of these businesses had just managed to survive the last red listing and had borrowed funds to provide capital to carry them forward into the summer where they could try to stabilise their precarious financial situation,” she said.

Anderson added that the second red listing snuffed the oxygen out of the sector and even resulted in businesses being shuttered.

“What governments around the world don’t realise or perhaps don’t value, is the mental, emotional, financial, and social toll of their actions.

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“History will not look kindly on the actions global governments have taken over the past two years in the ‘spirit’ of stemming the spread of Covid. It will take many years to heal,” Anderson concluded.

Lutz-Kokuner concurred with Anderson’s statement, stating that the lifting the ban had its positives and negatives.

Bianca Lutz-Kokuner, describes her seven-day stay at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, Stansted, in London as a waste of money.

“For seven days, which were meant to be 10, we spent over £228 per day for service that wasn't even up to standard.

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“Yes, we are very happy that families from UK and South Africa can see each other again, but we feel like we wasted money.

“It’s money we put in, time, energy and now we feel that we have to work extra hard to put the money back, this is one of the negatives, everything was done for no reason.

“Our question is, how can they act like this towards livelihoods?” Lutz-Kokuner asked.

She added that it taught her and the rest of the travellers to not take travelling risks during a global pandemic.

“While we have the stress of saving up again, we are also thankful for this eye-opener though,” she said.

Lutz-Kokuner said they’d heard talk of a refund for three of the days, but she was waiting for this to be confirmed.

“Because we left three days earlier there were rumours of a refund, nothing is confirmed yet. We are waiting on news from Corporate Travel Management, the company we booked the hotel with to let us know if we will be refunded those three days or not,” she said.

The 24 hour spike in bookings is attributed to the majority of people who had booked previously. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Meanwhile, Sue Garrett, general manager of supply, pricing and marketing at Flight Centre Travel Group, confirmed that they had seen a spike in re-bookings and enquiries since the ban was lifted.

The 24-hour spike in bookings is attributed to the majority of people who had booked previously.

“Emirates and Qatar are not flying currently, airlines which would usually provide multiple daily flights into and from South Africa. Until they fly, capacity will be constrained.

“Limited options impact the price of air tickets,” Garrett said.

Airlines currently flying into South Africa are British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Swiss, Kenya Airways and Egypt Air who resumed their air services from Thursday.

Turkish Airlines also confirmed that it would resume flights to South Africa yesterday.

A return flight to London cost at least R20 000 on premium economy because of availability.

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