ASATA, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents, is calling for a definite date for the reopening of international inbound travel. This information is critical for the travel industry and could ensure its survival.

“We appreciate Government’s efforts to implement a risk-adjusted and phased approach to reopening international travel and tourism. However, in order for the industry to survive this difficult time, a definite date for the reopening of international travel is imperative,” says Otto de Vries, ASATA CEO.

A definite date will allow airlines sufficient time to plan the reintroduction of flight schedules, and help travel agents and tour operators put together appropriate travel packages for both business and leisure travelers.

A definite date will allow airlines sufficient time to plan the reintroduction of flight schedules, and help travel agents and tour operators put together appropriate travel packages for both business and leisure travelers. This in turn will allow companies to start taking bookings.

ASATA confirms that, in most cases, the industry has made every effort to reschedule their customer’s travel plans with little to no compensation since the travel ban was enacted in March. “In many cases, travel agents, as intermediaries between the end customer and supplier, have been unable to recover monies from end suppliers (the airline, hotel, etc.), while they are expected to refund the customer. This has put the travel agent in an unenviable position,” explains de Vries.

“In many cases, travel agents, as intermediaries between the end customer and supplier, have been unable to recover monies from end suppliers (the airline, hotel, etc.), while they are expected to refund the customer.”

Many travel agents have been forced to close due to the challenges of a prolonged lockdown period – including STA Travel’s global offices on 24 August.

ASATA is confident that its members will promote the safety of their clients, using the Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s health and safety protocols that the travel sector helped compile. It also anticipates that ASATA travel agents will choose their suppliers based on their safety and hygiene protocols, as well as the flexibility of their booking and cancellation policies.

“Our role as the travel industry is to guide travellers to feel confident once again about their travels,” adds de Vries. “Nothing is more important now for travellers than knowing they can reach out to an expert who can answer their questions with confidence so that they can travel with peace of mind.”

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