Indian Ocean Destinations

Operators and agents report that Zanzibar bookings are selling like hotcakes, as it is one of the few destinations that remains completely open for travel for South Africans.

Issues relating to shortages of PCR tests, reported during December, have been ironed out and the island is easily accessible through Mango’s direct flights from Johannesburg.

Owner of Take Off Travel, Owain John, said he had visited Zanzibar last month and could confirm that he had not had any issues in obtaining a PCR test on the island prior to his return to South Africa.

“Zanzibar is hungry for tourists. It’s an affordable destination, less than four hours from Johannesburg by direct flight, with no visa requirements or COVID-related entry requirements for South Africans.

We are receiving a lot of bookings for travel from September to December, with clients looking forward to travelling again when the COVID situation calms down. To secure bookings, we are asking for a low deposit of only R4 990 per person, which goes toward the flight ticket and, as Mango has flexible terms and conditions at present, there is very little risk involved for the client,” said Owain.

Ceo of Thompsons Holidays, Joanne Adolphe, said she had seen a rush in bookings for Zanzibar, with Thompsons Holidays’ seven-night packages starting at R8 999pps, and coming in at about R13 000pps over the Easter period.

She said Mango flights over Easter were already about 80% full, which was a good indicator of how popular the destination was at present.PCR no problem“You don’t need a PCR test to get into Zanzibar but you need one to get back to South Africa. Most operators can assist clients with organising a transfer to a nearby testing centre. We do not include the cost of a COVID test in our package prices, as this is paid direct, but testing facilities generally charge up to $100 (R1 460) per test. It takes 36-48 hours to receive test results, which can either be delivered to the hotel or to the airport to connect with your return flight departure,” said Joanne.

Some travellers may be concerned about safety from infection on the island, having read reports that Tanzanian President, John Magufuli, is a COVID denialist.

But ceo of Asata, Otto de Vries, said the resorts and ground-handlers on the island were all following international best practice when it came to COVID safety regulations. He visited the island during December and was mostly impressed with measures put in place to curb virus transmission.Otto recommended that guests should get their paperwork in order before leaving Johannesburg to ensure swifter processing at passport control. He also recommended that agents and operators should be aware that travellers would need arrangements with their ground-handlers for transfers for PCR testing prior to departure, to ensure that they would have everything in order to re-enter South Africa. He suggested that it might be better for clients to go for testing early in the morning, as test centres tended to fill up later in the afternoon.

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