Windhoek – Several Southern African nations have opened their borders to international tourists or are in the process of doing so, four months after instituting national lockdowns as a new coronavirus containment strategy.
Tourism is a major revenue earner for most SADC countries, and it employs hundreds of thousands of people directly and indirectly across the Southern Africa region.
This week, Namibia opened its borders to tourists from Botswana, Ethiopia and Germany, with President Hage Geingob emphasising the importance of observing COVID-19 health regulations.
“Namibia will now allow tourists from Ethiopia, Germany and Botswana on a controlled basis as a way of making sure that the tourism industry does not come to a grinding halt. This is an ongoing process and we need to manage it well and ensure the safety measures are adhered to,” President Geingob said while announcing the decision to open the country’s borders.
Namibia’s government said tourists would be placed in isolation for seven days, down from the 14 days initially proposed.
Tourists visiting Namibia will need to have certification from their home country showing they are new coronavirus-free, and they will be tested on the seventh day of isolation before being allowed to proceed to their specific destinations in the country.
President Geingob said COVID-19’s negative impact on global travel was reason enough for Namibia to invest in growing domestic and regional tourism.
“As a country we need to find ways of keeping the few jobs that are in tourism at the moment and the obvious options are to have an industry with products that suit the domestic and regional tourist as we,” he said.
The Seychelles opened its borders to tourists from 19 “low” and “medium” risk countries on June 1, 2020, among them fellow SADC member and Indian Ocean island nation Mauritius.
Also in June, Tanzania announced it was open to international tourists from any country, saying there would be no mandatory quarantine period though there would be temperature checks, social distancing and mask-wearing requirements.
Further, tourists to Tanzania have to present a proof that they tested negative to COVID-19 within 72 hours before traveling.
Zambia, too, has opened its borders but tourist visas are not yet being issued.
The DRC plans to reopen its borders on August 15, with visitors required to provide proof that they do not carry the new coronavirus. Authorities will retain discretion to determine if a visitor should undergo testing or be placed in isolation.