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Finance - News around Africa - Profiles - August 24, 2020

South Africa: STA Travel Shuts Down Due to COVID-19 Restrictions

South African travel agency, STA Travel has shut down, due to the coronavirus pandemic and international travel limitations imposed by the resulting lockdown.

The company started as a student travel business and focuses on providing trips for young people, including gap years and volunteer projects.

In a statement shared to the organisation’s website, STA Travel said it will make arrangements for customers who have already paid for bookings.

“To our valued customers, due to the recent announcement that STA Travel South Africa has ceased trading, unfortunately, our travel experts are unable to assist you at this time,” the group said.

“Please be assured that if you had a previous booking with us, or hold a live booking, you will receive further communication in the coming days. We are sorry for the inconvenience and the limited information available to you at this time.”

The shutdown will impact both the South African operations of the group as well as its international business, with STA Travel operating more than 50 shops in the UK, the BBC reports.

Close to 500 jobs are considered to be at risk as a result of the shuttering of the company in the UK alone.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Kenya Airways Sacks 650 Staff, Plans to Layoff 207 Pilots More

Borders will still remain closed

The international tourism industry has been one of the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with travel agencies and airlines under sustained strain.

The University of Stellenbosch ‘s Bureau of Economic Research (BER) says international travel is crucial to revitalising the economy of South Africa.

In view of the fact that the latest increase of Covid-19 cases in Europe is largely blamed for on international travel, recreational activities and social events, the organisation said this could only be a few months away.

“Crucially, South Africa’s current regulations on the wearing of masks and continued social distancing are much stricter than in most European regions. This could prove an important factor in preventing such a scenario in South Africa,” it said.

The BER said the opening of borders was crucial to the local economy, highlighting tourism data published by Statistics South Africa last week which showed that industry came to a virtual standstill in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The move to Level 2 which allows for more normal trading conditions, including leisure-related interprovincial travel, should support the recovery in the industry. Unfortunately, given the enormous hit to income most businesses were faced with in the past five months, many have permanently closed their doors.

“The extent of the permanent damage will only become clear in months to come,” it said.

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