Vaccination certificate stance could lose UK operators African market share.

Travel Weekly, Comment, Published in the UK, 26 October 2021

Further delay to recognise vaccination certificates from some African countries could be last straw for some specialists, says ATTA president Nigel Vere Nicoll

Well, at last almost all 21 sub-Saharan countries that ATTA covers, apart from Chad, have a green light to go, allowing our tour operators to promote this vibrant continent once again.

However, our prime minister, who promised a “new clear travel system” before he waved goodbye and buzzed off to holiday in Marbella, has left behind an even more confused travel industry.

We expected that all those vaccinated with the recognised brands would be able to travel safely without hinderance, allowing the buyers and suppliers of tourism product to meet face-to-face to do business.

But further confusion remains across our industry.

Many of our African-based suppliers travelling to the UK, who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson, remain subject to the old border protocols, which include a 10-day quarantine on arrival in the UK.

The trade now has to tackle more restrictions that will damage product education, resulting in a potentially catastrophic loss of market share.

Prior to the pandemic, the suppliers of Africa tourism would fly to the UK to educate our buyers on their product, discuss changes and improvements, such as all the ingredients that offer a first-class safari product for their chosen operators to sell to their clients.

ATTA’s chairman John Corse, for example, a Tanzanian passport holder, who operates balloon safaris in the Serengeti, had booked to come to London next month to promote his business at World Travel Market (WTM) and travel widely across the UK to meet and update the tour operators who sell his safaris.

Although fully Johnson & Johnson vaccinated, Tanzania’s vaccination status (indeed all sub-Saharan Africa except for Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa) is not recognised by the UK government.

This means that, were our gallant leader to step ashore in the UK, he would have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, which is not understandably an option.

As a result, his sales calls have now been switched to German, Austrian, and Swiss operators. This change completely cuts out our UK outbound specialists, damaging their market share and seriously eroding the UK’s market position as one of the largest providers of tourism across all Africa.

Once again, ATTA urges the UK government to get a grip and solve the vaccination certification log jam by establishing a system for countries to recognise and accept each other’s vaccination certificates.

A further delay could be the final straw for many specialist outbound operators as they watch their business drifting to countries who readily accept the recognised vaccination brands, that allow the buyers and suppliers of tourism to travel freely and do business without hinderance.