Namibia wants off UK’s red list

15 September 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Namibia remains on the United Kingdom’s red list, which restricts travel and requires returning British or Irish nationals to endure a 10-day quarantine at their own cost.

This has a devastating impact on Namibia’s already embattled tourism sector. The controversial “traffic light system” is due to be updated on Thursday.

In an open letter to UK prime minister Boris Johnson and other top government officials, the Namibia Travel and Tourism Forum (NTTF) has requested that Namibia be reclassified as a safe destination for tourism.

NTTF founder Nrupesh Soni said Namibia is still listed as a high-risk country for travel, even though the country currently has one of the lowest seven-day rolling averages in the number of Covid-19 cases globally.

“It is therefore unclear and incomprehensible how your authorities came to the conclusion that Namibia should be a high-risk country. Moreover, Namibia and - in fact - the whole of southern Africa remain on the UK red list,” he said.

Soni said all bookings for the peak months of September and October have been cancelled or postponed.

“If things do not change within the next month, many more companies will most probably be forced into bankruptcy.”

Scrap it

He said ahead of the review of the traffic light system and the country review, they urgently call that they system be scrapped, including the red list.

Soni added that hotel quarantine should be scrapped and fully vaccinated travellers, whether British residents or not, should be allowed to enter the UK without need for any testing.

Only British or Irish nationals and those with residence rights are permitted to enter the UK from Namibia.

However, these travellers are still forced to quarantine for 10 days in a state-managed hotel at a cost of more than N$40 000, it is reported.

These mandatory quarantine requirements have kept away travellers from one of Namibia’s most valuable tourism source market.

South Africa has also taken issue with the fact that it still remains on the UK’s red list, and started a petition with more than 30 000 signatures.

Risk profile

Introduced by the UK, the traffic light system is updated every three weeks, with its joint biosecurity centre responsible for determining the level of restrictions – red, amber or green – according to a specific country’s risk profile.

The risk assessments focus on Covid-19 variants, active caseloads, transmission rates and genomic sequencing capabilities, however, the centre has been criticised for inconsistencies in its approach.

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