Digital vaccination certificates – the news SA has been waiting to hear

FEDHASA has welcomed the announcement by Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla on the imminent roll-out of digital vaccine certificates for vaccinated South Africans.

Giving an update on government’s COVID-19 response strategy and the vaccine rollout plan on 10 September 2021, Minister Phaahla said all vaccinated South Africans would be eligible for a digital vaccination certificate within a week.

Vaccinated South Africans will be able to upload their digital certificate on their smartphones and print their certificates if needed. This is in line with the World Health Organization’s initiative to standardise vaccination proof all over the world, Minister Phaahla said.

“Beyond the obvious benefits for South African citizens wanting to travel to destinations which require of travellers to hold digital vaccination certificates, this announcement is also good news for our inbound industry as it will go a long way to restoring confidence in international visitors wanting to visit South Africa,” says Rosemary Anderson, FEDHASA National Chairperson.

Many of South Africa’s key source markets have already or are in the process of implementing digital vaccine certificates or passports. “International travellers will feel more secure in visiting South Africa if standardised processes and protocols are followed. Traveller confidence always improves when there is consistency,” Anderson says.

The announcement is timely as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) steps up its lobbying for the removal of South Africa from the UK red list, says Anderson.

DIRCO Minister Dr Naledi Pandor said her department is in talks with the British government and that plans are being finalised for government to “significantly increase its lobbying efforts to ensure that South Africa is removed from the UK’s red list soonest”.

“Along with the reduction in COVID-19 infections, increasing vaccination rates in South Africa and the fact that the dominating variant is Delta as is the case in our key markets, the launch of the digital vaccination certificates will help our tourism and hospitality industry get back on its feet,” says Anderson.

While there is indeed merit for optimism in the recovery of the hospitality and tourism sectors, FEDHASA continues to emphasise that responsible trading together with mass vaccination of all those living in South Africa is the only sustainable solution in the industry’s fight against COVID-19.

“FEDHASA has created and rolled out a robust set of health and safety protocols and our members are acutely aware of the importance of adhering to these standards to safeguard the public and continue trading. There is no sector as aware of the direct relationship between adherence to protocols and the recovery of the sector than the hospitality and tourism industry,” Anderson concludes.

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