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Air ticket sales from South Africa to London have tripled since last Thursday’s red list announcement, Flight Centre said in a statement this week.
According to Flight Centre Travel Group MD Andrew Stark, the UK is now one of the most booked international destinations for South Africans.
“We have been inundated with enquiries for travel to the UK since the long-overdue announcement by the British government on Thursday evening. There’s been a massive spike in enquiries and bookings across our retail travel booking channels and brands, including on our website, in our Flight Centre stores and through Flight Centre Independent.
“Over the weekend, our network of 48 shops and 350 travel professionals were flooded with walk-ins and website enquiries,” he said.
Sue Garrett, general manager of supply, pricing and marketing at the Flight Centre, said the number of new air tickets issued from South Africa to London increased ‘fivefold’ since October 7.
“The majority of air tickets booked have been for departure in November and December 2021. We estimate that many of these bookings are for South Africans finally making plans to reunite with family and friends over the December and January holidays,” she said.
GM Corporate Traveller Oz Desai said London has always been a prominent route for South African leisure and business travellers.
“The fact that vaccinated South Africans can now travel freely to the UK, which is one of our top business destinations, is likely to significantly boost business travel between the two countries,” he said.
A surge in UK travellers to South Africa
It seems that UK travellers are also booking their summer trips to sunny South Africa.
David Frost, the CEO of SATSA and someone who has been vocal about the impact the red list had on tourism in South Africa, told IOL Travel last week that UK operators have already seen a surge in enquiries from Brits.
“This decision is long overdue, but it will come as a huge relief to hundreds of thousands of tourism workers in South Africa, in addition to scores of holiday companies in the UK.
“Our UK operators have already seen a surge in enquiries from sun-starved Brits looking for an escape. Early estimates suggest that upwards of 300 000 British passport holders expect to visit friends and family or take advantage of highly competitive holiday deals across Southern Africa in the coming months,” he said.