UK's red list expected to damage South African and Sri Lankan economies badly
Tuesday, 31st August 2021
Source : World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)

WTTC warns South African and Sri Lankan economies could see huge shortfalls for every week it’s on the UK’s ‘red list.

According to research conducted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the South African economy could face massive losses of more than ZAR 181 million every week it’s on the UK’s ‘red list’ for travel.

The comprehensive study conducted by WTTC, reveals the staggering consequences the UK ‘red list’ represents to the South African Travel & Tourism sector, and the nation’s economy, which have both been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All UK travellers, regardless of their vaccine status, travelling to countries on the ‘red list’, which includes South Africa, are required to cover the expensive cost of a 10-day hotel quarantine upon returning to the UK, plus the fees for COVID-19 tests.

The approach taken by other European countries such as Germany, France and Switzerland, where quarantine is no longer required for fully vaccinated citizens travelling to South Africa, can still slow the spread of COVID-19 while enabling mobility and providing a boost to the economy.

Based on 2019 UK visitor numbers and spending, the global tourism body’s research shows these restrictions, which are deterring Brits from travelling to South Africa, could represent losses of over ZAR 790 million every month, equating to more than ZAR 26 million every single day.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President, said: “The impact the UK’s traffic light system imposes on ‘red list’ countries is not only damaging the Travel & Tourism sector, but also economies around the world. Our data shows that every day South Africa remains on the UK’s ‘red list’, the country faces losing millions of dollars, effectively delaying the global socio-economic recovery.

“Our data shows how vital the Travel & Tourism sector is to rebooting the country’s economy.

“As a result of the pandemic bringing Travel & Tourism almost to a halt, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost across South Africa, pushing more people into poverty, which shows how crucial it is to restart safe international travel and reduce mobility restrictions.

“WTTC is calling on governments around the world to accelerate the rollout of vaccines as a catalyst to restart international travel and rescue the struggling global Travel & Tourism sector.

“Furthermore, we are also encouraging governments of ‘red list’ countries to work closely with their UK counterparts to ensure the very latest data is shared, so the country can be moved from the economically damaging red list, to the amber list as soon as possible.”

In the UK, more than half of all adults have been fully vaccinated, which significantly reduces the risk of any citizens travelling abroad. Whilst the vaccine rollout has picked up pace, the figure is considerably lower in South Africa.

It is therefore critical for the South African government to continue ramping up the vaccination programme to restart international travel, and enable the economic recovery as a result.

According to WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR), in 2019 South Africa was among the most popular destinations for UK travellers, accounting for 7% of international visitor spending, representing ZAR 9.4 billion.

WTTC’s report also shows the punishing impact the pandemic has had over the country’s employment, with over 470,000 jobs lost due the lack of international travel.

The EIR also reveals the terrible effect COVID-19 had on South Africa’s economy, with the Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy falling from ZAR 363 billion (6.9%) in 2019, to just ZAR 182 billion (3.7%) in 2020. 

International visitor spending also plummeted by 66%, from more than ZAR 134 billion in 2019, to a mere ZAR 46 billion in 2020.

WTTC warns Sri Lankan economy could suffer a shortfall of more than LKR8.2 billion every month it’s on the UK’s ‘red list’ for travel.

Research conducted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed Sri Lanka’s economy could face losses of more than LKR260 million each day it remains on the UK’s disruptive and damaging ‘red list’ for travel.

According to pre-pandemic figures, the UK was one of the top inbound markets for Sri Lanka, representing 10 per cent of all inbound arrivals in 2019, just behind India.

Based on 2019 levels, Sri Lanka’s status as a UK’s ‘red list’ country will pose a significant threat to the nation’s struggling Travel & Tourism sector and its overall economy, which have been seriously damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those countries on the UK’s ‘red list’, even fully vaccinated travellers are forced to quarantine in expensive hotels and bear the cost of COVID-19 tests, which is deterring UK citizens from travelling to Sri Lanka. 

WTTC’s data unveils the dramatic consequences these restrictions could pose for the Sri Lankan economy, with the country facing a drain of nearly LKR 1.9 billion each week it’s on the UK’s ‘red list’, equating to more than LKR260 million every single day.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President, said: “Every week Sri Lanka remains on the ‘red list’, the nation’s economy faces losing millions. The restrictions faced by ‘red list’ countries on the UK’s traffic light system are not only damaging for the Travel & Tourism sector, but also the already devastated economy.

“With international travel coming to almost a complete halt, 214,000 Travel & Tourism jobs were lost in Sri Lanka last year, disrupting the livelihoods of those who rely on a thriving Travel & Tourism sector.

“As long as international travel remains stagnant, we are delaying the path to a global socio-economic recovery. A safe restoration of international mobility would rescue the devastated Travel & Tourism sector.

“WTTC believes an acceleration of the vaccine programme is key for the recovery of the economy, and it will act as a catalyst to restart international travel and salvage the struggling Travel & Tourism sector.”

Latest data shows less than one third of Sri Lankan population has been fully vaccinated, making it crucial for the nation’s government to ramp up the vaccination rollout and work closely with its UK counterpart, so the country can be moved from the economically damaging ‘red list’.

WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) unveils the dramatic impact COVID-19 has had on the Sri Lankan Travel & Tourism sector, with its contribution to the national GDP falling from LKR1,665.5 billion (10.4%) in 2019, to just LKR739.9 billion (4.9%) in 2020. 

The EIR also reveals international visitor spending plummeted by 73.8%, from more than LKR884.1 billion in 2019, to merely LKR231.9 billion in 2020.

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