Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
10 minute read
24 Oct 2020
11:00 am

Here’s where South Africans can fly to for a holiday right now

Kaunda Selisho

Confused about where to travel to and what's expected from you? Ghana's looking good.

A tourist with dolphins at a Dolphin Discovery habitat in the Isla Mujeres resort, Mexico, 2 July 2020. The tourist parks reopened after almost three months of being closed to the public by Covid-19 in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Picture: EPA-EFE/Alonso Cupul

The government has downsized the official red list of countries not be able to travel to our shores for leisure in the coming months, but this has left many wondering exactly which countries South Africans can travel to under lockdown.

Earlier this month South Africa made waves when the government published a list of high-risk countries still not allowed to travel to South Africa for leisure, listing 60 countries. The list was later revised down to 22 countries.

This includes Argentina, Germany, Peru, Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Belgium, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Iran, Spain, Canada, Iraq, United Kingdom, Chile, Italy, USA, Colombia, Mexico, France and Netherlands.

Business Insider reports that South Africans can now travel to 18 of the 60 countries the South African government initially classified as high-risk.

These include countries such as Albania, Armenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Croatia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Lebanon, Maldives, Mexico, Palestine, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.

Bookings.com is at the forefront of monitoring updates to the policies of countries on international leisure travel on a platform called Kayak.

According to Kayak, about 56 countries were completely closed as of Wednesday, 21 October. Ninety-three countries are partially open (with South Africa being one of them) and only 66 countries had no travel restrictions.

Of the aforementioned destinations, here are a few places South Africans can travel to over the festive season.

1. The Maldives

JW Marriott Maldives Resort and Spa
© Marriott International | Image: Supplied

The region is a small archipelago of islands situated in South Asia right in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives lie southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700km from the subcontinent.

According to Kayak, from 10 September all tourists and short-term visitors to the region will be required to present a negative PCR test for Covid-19 taken within 72 hours prior to departure and on arrival in the area.

“Visa on arrival service has now restarted. Everyone entering the Maldives for a purpose other than tourism will be subject to a 14-day quarantine, medical screening on arrival and must register on the Haalubelun portal.”

Additionally, visitors are encouraged to install the contact tracing application, Trace Ekee, upon or before arrival and present a completed Health Declaration Card and Immigration Arrival Card.

Tourists must also have a hotel reservation confirmation for the entire stay in a registered tourist facility.

Do you need a visa? Yes
Are there flights going there? Yes
How long do you need to quarantine there for? 14 – days along with a medical screening
What is the exchange rate? The region’s currency is the Maldivian rufiyaa and the exchange rate with the rand is almost 1:1

2. Mexico

A tourist performs with dolphins at a Dolphin Discovery habitat in the Isla Mujeres resort, Mexico. The tourist parks reopened after almost three months of being closed to the public by Covid-19 in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Picture: EPA-EFE/Alonso Cupul

Mexico is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States, to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean, to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea, and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico.

Mexico does not have any entry known restrictions. However, travellers from countries affected by Covid-19 will be screened and quarantined if necessary – this includes South Africa.

After screening, those showing symptoms will be quarantined.

A completed risk factor identification questionnaire must be presented to immigration upon arrival.

It should be noted that the land border between Mexico and the US was closed to non-essential traffic until at least 21 October.

Do you need a visa? Yes
Are there flights going there? Yes
How long do you need to quarantine there for? N/A
What is the exchange rate: Almost 1:1 with the Mexican Peso

3. Ghana


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Hausa Koko is a popular name and it is recommended by nutritionists. It combines perfectly with bread, Kose, Pinkaso, groundnut etc. It is millet porridge and Ghanaian street food commonly eaten as a breakfast meal. (Some also enjoy it as a late afternoon meal though). It is called Hausa Koko because of its popularity in the northern parts of Ghana where it is believed to have been first made by the Hausa speaking people. It is made from millet with a few local spices added to give it a particular taste and colour. The ingredient used in preparing Hausa Koko includes Millet, Ginger, Cloves, Ground dried pepper, Black peppercorn Pinch salt and pepper. It is usually accompanied by a Ghanaian fried bean bun called Kose or spicy fried flour dumpling called Pinkaso. Some also prefer the Hausa Koko with bread or buffloaf (bofrot/toogb33). Hausa Koko is a breakfast mostly sold on the Ghanaian street. It’s eaten with sugar, milk and preferably groundnuts to give it a delicious taste with the Kose has an accompaniment. This breakfast is even recommended by doctors for recuperating patients. they are usually served with Hausa Koko and Kose which is easy to drink and digest. There are numerous benefits of Hausa Koko and Kose. Millet flour from which Hausa Koko is made contains vital nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, manganese, tryptophan, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B, as well as antioxidants, while beans from which Kose is made contains iron and proteins. Even though there is a lot of breakfast meals currently available all those who have stuck to the good old Hausa Koko and Kose know nothing can be compared to it. . What is your prefered combination? . #JuneIsEatGhana #eatghana #SaturdayThoughts #SaturdayMotivation #SaturdayMorning #SaturdayMood

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Ghana is a country along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa.

As of September, Ghana’s Accra Kotoka International Airport reopened for commercial flights.

Travellers wishing to visit Ghana must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test issued within 72 hours before departure and those over the age of five are subject to another mandatory Covid-19 test upon arrival, conducted at the airport.

This test carries a $150 (R2 434) fee paid online by the traveller at myfrontierhealthcare.com. Results will generally be available in 30 minutes.

Any traveller who tests positive for Covid-19 will be attended to by health officials while those who receive negative test results will be allowed to enter Ghana with no quarantine requirement.

Travellers returning to Ghana within one week will not need to present a negative PCR Covid-19 test. However, they will still be subject to testing upon arrival at the airport.

Do you need a visa? Yes
Are there flights going there? Yes
How long do you need to quarantine there for? No quarantine period required for those with negative Covid-19 results
What is the exchange rate? 1:0.36 to the Ghanain Cedi

4. The Seychelles

Beau Vallon beach on Mahé island, Seychelles. Picture: iStock

Like the Maldives, the Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off the East African coast.

Numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves are among the area’s biggest attractions along with rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises.

Seychelles has lifted travel restrictions for travellers arriving from a select group of countries and they will be allowed to travel to Seychelles under specific conditions.

Seychelles reopened its borders to commercial flights from certain areas from 1 August.

The Seychelles Department of Health has specified separate entry requirements for visitors and for returning residents or work permit holders.

A full list of entry guidelines and application forms can be found on its website.

According to the Department of Health, travellers originating in countries that are considered high risk will not be permitted entry until further notice.

Travellers intending to travel to the Seychelles should check Seychelles government updates and contact their airline to confirm they will be allowed to enter. Non-residents must have a hotel reservation confirmation.

A completed application for entry to Seychelles must be submitted to the Public Health Commissioner before boarding. The form can be obtained at tourism.gov.sc.

Travellers must have a medical certificate with a negative Covid-19 test result issued at most 72 hours before arrival and are subject to medical screening.

Nationals and residents of Seychelles are subject to quarantine for 14 days.

Do you need a visa? Yes
Are there flights going there? Yes
How long do you need to quarantine there for? 14 days
What is the exchange rate: Almost 1:1 with the Seychellois Rupee

5.  The United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates — made up of seven sheikdoms including the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi and freewheeling Dubai — has become a hub for young professionals and a safe haven in a region blighted by political turmoil and poverty. AFP/File/KARIM SAHIB

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

The UAE has relaxed its entry requirements for tourists and residents.

Travellers must present a negative Covid-19 test result taken 96 hours ahead of departure and are subject to a 14-day self-isolation period. Additionally, they will be required to wear a medically approved wristband.

The wristband will be provided at Abu Dhabi airport after clearing immigration. Arrivals under the age of 18, over the age of 60, diplomats or those suffering from a chronic disease will be exempt from having to wear the wristband.

There is also a separate set of regulations specifically for people entering Dubai, which was announced on 21 June and is now in effect for Dubai residents and visitors.

According to Kayak, as of August 12, UAE residents no longer need to pre-register before returning to the country. However, all travellers (including citizens, residents, tourists, and transit passengers) entering the UAE must have a negative Covid-19 test result before flying to the country.

This must be a negative Covid-19 PCR (nasal swab) test result taken within 96 hours of departure and must be shown in order to board commercial flights to the UAE. Children under the age of 12 and those with severe and moderate disabilities will be exempted from the test requirement.

“Those entering the country may also be asked to take a further PCR Covid-19 test on arrival and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and required to wear a medically approved wristband for the duration of their quarantine.”

Visitors to Dubai who are non-residents will be able to travel to Dubai from July 7. Further information about what visitors need to do before they travel and what will happen on arrival in Dubai is available on the Government of Dubai website, including information about testing on arrival and quarantine.

Before visitors fly to Dubai, they will also be required to complete a health declaration form and a quarantine form. Both forms need to be printed, completed and handed over to Dubai Health Authority staff on arrival.

Visitors to Dubai will also have to register their details on the Covid-19 DXB App.

Visitors must have international health insurance before travelling and must show that they have had a negative PCR Covid-19 test a maximum of four days before their departure date.

Do you need a visa? Yes
Are there flights going there? Yes
How long do you need to quarantine there for? 14 days
What is the exchange rate: 1:0.23 for the rand to the United Arab Emirates Dirham

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