South African travel bans have been lifting, left, right and centre and Mauritius is the latest country to follow suit. The island nation recently lifted its ban and opened its borders to travellers from southern African countries with immediate effect.
A statement issued by Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) on Thursday 6 January announces that the island nation will lift the travel ban it raised against southern African states on Friday 7 January.
“We are very pleased that all South Africans can once again travel to Mauritius. The COVID-19 response has placed significant pressure on all nations to do the right thing and we thank South Africans and the South African travel industry for their patience in this regard,” Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority director Arvind Bundhun said in a statement.
OMICRON-RELATED TRAVEL BAN
Mauritius instated a travel ban against South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe in November 2021 following the discovery of the Omicron variant by South African scientists.
The initial ban was expected to be in place until the end of December 2021, crushing the hopes of numbers of South African holidaymakers who had been eagerly planning their island getaway to Mauritius during the festive season.
MAURITIUS EXTENDS BAN ON SA
In late December, authorities in Mauritius announced an extension to the travel ban until the end of January 2022. The extended ban came as a blow to holidaymakers who might have hoped for a last-minute escape to the island nation before the official start of the South African school year and the return to work for most employees in the second week of January.
The extended entry ban led to losses of billions of rands for airlines and tourism service providers in both Mauritius and South Africa, prompting the Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA) to approach authorities in Mauritius for a review of the ban since the country did allow entry to nationals from countries in Europe where Omicron infections are surging.
HEALTH AND SAFETY IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius’s health authorities are continuing to implement a range of health and safety protocols on the island, as well as its roll-out of booster doses of the vaccine for residents who have already been double vaccinated. The vaccination of the 15- to 18-year-old section of the island’s population is currently underway.
“Sanitary protocols throughout the Mauritius hospitality industry remain at the very highest standards, ensuring that the local community and international guests are afforded maximum protection from the virus. Visitors can book holidays to Mauritius with a high degree of confidence that their trips will be enjoyable, safe and secure.”Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority director Arvind Bundhun
The lifting of Mauritius’s travel and flight ban however comes a little too late for airlines and tourism providers to make up for the losses incurred by the forced cancellation of many holiday trips, which cannot be taken now since the academic and working year is off to a start for most South Africans.
By: Lorne Philpot