The country’s removal from the UK red list has seen an increase in the number of South Africans looking to make their way to the UK. This has resulted in The Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) seeing an 89% increase in its revenue for October across its leisure brands.
The travel group announced this in a statement released on Thursday about the spike in flight ticket sales between South Africa and the UK since the former was removed from the latter’s travel red list on 7 October.
“In the hours and days following the UK red list announcement, the UK overtook Mauritius and Dubai as the most booked international destination for South Africans,” said Flight Centre.
“We have been inundated with enquiries for travel to the UK since the long-overdue announcement by the British government on Thursday evening,” added Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group MD.
“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.”
As a result, Stark says Flight Centre South Africa will soon become the first Flight Centre globally to open a new brick-and-mortar store since the start of the pandemic.
“Our mobile app was also hugely popular with overall website traffic up by 50% since the announcement. We saw the same spike across SME business travel,” he added.
When are South Africans looking to travel to the UK?
Sue Garrett, general manager supply, pricing and marketing at the Flight Centre Travel Group said the majority of air tickets booked have been for departure in November and December 2021 in light of the UK red list announcement.
“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.”
“The UK is one of our biggest markets as an outbound travel company, so it’s a huge sigh of relief from a cost perspective. We are hopeful that the news will bring additional air supply into the market,” said Stark last week in reaction to the news of South Africa being removed from the UK’s red list.
He also believes that this is “great news for SMMEs and multinational companies” because London has always been a popular route for both South African leisure and business travellers.
“With Heathrow recognised as one of the top international airports for corporate traffic originating from South Africa, 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,” said Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller echoing Stark’s view.
“Currently there are 123 African or Africa-focussed corporates listed or trading in London, more than on any other international exchange. A great number of SA businesses have also set up headquarters in the UK to tap into the global trade opportunities. For these companies, it’s imperative that a seamless travel regime between the UK and South Africa is re-established,” Desai added.
Apart from our removal from the UK red list, more than 123 countries around the globe are already open (with varying conditions in place) to South African travellers.
Compiled by Kaunda Selisho