A travel advisory issued by the US on Tuesday warning away visitors to South Africa has yet to be explained to the Department of Tourism and the Department of International Relations (Dirco).
The advisory, by the US department of state’s bureau of consular affairs, advised citizens considering travelling to South Africa: “Do not travel to South Africa due to Covid-19. Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for South Africa due to Covid-19, indicating a very high level of Covid-19 in the country.”
High levels of crime in South Africa cannot be disputed, but tourism department spokesperson Blessing Manale said the US travel advisory was “disappointing” and “regrettable”.
“For a developing country, we are doing quite well in the pandemic and have well-managed travel rules adhering to Covid-19 protocols.”
Manale said the department was cognizant of countries having to prioritise travel for the wellbeing of their citizens, but said the CDC “should listen more to cooperators in the US”.
“We know international travel is delayed, but we don’t want to be stigmatised. Travellers are generally already cautious to come to our country and we think we are doing the best we can.”
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Manale said the department would be challenging the advisory.
Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the US travel advisory was nothing new and South Africa is one of 134 countries that US citizens have been advised not to visit at present.
Dirco has not yet reacted to the CDC’s latest advisory.
He said the department was committed to finding an explanation as to the latest advisory and has invited the US embassy to visit Dirco and offer an explanation.
Monyela said there must be a definitive reason for the travel advisory, but the embassy has not yet elaborated.
“They need to consult with headquarters in Washington DC before they come up with an explanation for the rationale behind this move. Rationality says if any country was morally correct to issue a travel advisory, it would be us. This issue is screaming for an explanation.
Despite numerous requests for comment from the US embassy, no responses were received.