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  • Writer's pictureChantell van den Heever

Message from Chantell - from my desk to yours - 06 Nov 2021

SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE & CHRISTMAS IS IN 49 DAYS -wow time has really flown by since my last update. I have lots of new updates for you so will get right into it ...

The big news last week was the Official Announcement of the Trusted Travel System coming into effect for travel to Namibia. Whilst I do understand the main reason for the implementation (To support the African Union (AU) member states to harmonize and enhance their current health screening and verification systems) I can't help thinking about how this will affect travellers decisions about travelling to Namibia vs. another country, for example, working toward making it easier for visitors to enter their country. For our local travellers and inbound tourists, even more, paperwork just to travel somewhere. A 7-page document was released announcing the new measures that will come into effect from 01 Dec 2021. I will try to condense it into a few sentences; In short - to enter Namibia, all travellers will need to register their negative PCR Test on the Trusted Travel System (TTS). In addition to this, travellers need to conduct their PCR Tests at a Trusted Travel Lab (TT Lab). There is a place on the system where you check which labs are TT Labs in the country where you are departing from to enter Namibia. We have tried to simplify this entire process for our clients, and have a 2-page Step-by-Step guide - Click here for this guide. Our current regulations are in place until 15 Nov. Let's hope there is some good news on the horizon at least for Vaccinated travellers being allowed to enter Namibia without a PCR test. With the rest of the world opening up to fully vaccinated travellers, Namibia could just possibly be left off the Tourist radar, if we don't move in the same direction soon. FlyWestair has rebranded to FlyNamibia and launched "Safari-Route"- The private Namibian airline FlyNamibia, formerly FlyWestair, will launch daily transfers between Eros Airport (ERS) in Windhoek and Etosha National Park, Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, and the coastal city of Swakopmund. The new "safari route" will be launched in May 2022. The airline also plans to launch daily flights to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and increase flights to Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi region from the current three weekly flights to daily flights. The other big occasion is the re-opening of the United States completely to Fully vaccinated travellers on 08 Nov 2021. I read an article this week stating that as the U.S. reopens to fully vaccinated international travellers, Delta has seen a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings versus the six weeks prior to the announcement. Many international flights are expected to operate 100% full on Monday, 8th Nov, with high passenger volume throughout the following weeks. Families and friends who have been kept apart for the past 20 months are now able to reunite. Air France also returns to Cape Town - 31 October, the French airline also re-launched its direct route between Paris and Cape Town in South Africa, a route that had been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. They will operate three times a week with a 787-9 Dreamliner.

Lufthansa will resume seasonal service between Munich Airport and Cape Town International Airport. From November 1, 2021, Lufthansa will resume daily flights between Frankfurt Airport and Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport. Also from November 1, 2021, Switzerland’s flagship airline SWISS will resume daily flights between Zurich Airport in Johannesburg. Swiss leisure airline Edelweiss Air has resumed its seasonal twice-weekly service between Zurich and Cape Town. The service will end on the last weekend of March 2022. Great to see the resumption of so many routes, which just opens more opportunities for us in Namibia to travel, albeit via South Africa. All these options are bound to have an effect on the availability of capacity and thereby have an effect on more favourable pricing options.

Welcome Back Thailand Understanding the Thailand Sandbox programme is quite easy - After 20 months of border closures, Thailand has opened its borders to vaccinated international tourists, with no quarantine necessary. But an important piece of information, and one that many people do not know, is that the tourists allowed to roam freely are limited to those from a list of 63 countries, and Namibia & South Africa is not on the list. This is where the SandBox trips are important to know. Vaccinated South Africans/Namibians may visit Thailand within the Sandbox system by flying direct to Phuket and, after an initial PCR test, spending their first seven days on a designated island, enjoying the delights of a Thai beach while staying in a SHA+ registered hotel. These are hotels certificated by the Thai government to have the correct protocols in place and to have 70% or more of their staff vaccinated. Visitors may not leave their island for seven nights but after this period has lapsed, and after a negative antigen test on day six or seven, the travellers may continue their journey to other parts of Thailand, quarantine-free. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the islands in the sandbox scheme are Phuket, Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and Ko Tao), Phang-Nga (Khao Lak and Ko Yao), and Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai and Railay Beach).

Tourist Visa Applications for Namibians to Europe Good news is that Switzerland and Belgium have been added to the current list (Germany & France) that can be applied for locally. We can also still obtain a visa for Spain & Portugal locally, as well as the Scandinavian Countries (for essential travel) as there are still some restrictions in place for travellers from Namibia.

It is important to note that the Schengen visa process pre-covid is not currently in place and each visa is currently country-specific. This could change overnight so please keep in touch with us.

Countries such as Austria, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands are still not represented by the German Embassy at this time. Even though some of these countries are welcoming Namibians, we must apply for our tourist visas through South Africa, mostly in person.

Give the Gift of Travel With 49 days to Christmas, why not think about giving the

"gift of travel" this Christmas. You can open a Gift Voucher Registry with us, and everyone in the family/or group of friends can contribute ( in private ) toward a Gift Voucher for a family member or friend. Once everyone has contributed, we "credit" the voucher and provide a lovely designed digital or paper gift voucher to put under the Christmas Tree for that special someone OR what about that upcoming Honeymoon or a special anniversary. Chat to us if you want more information on registering a Gift Voucher account.

Thank you to each and every one of you that has sent us a special note, said a kind word, or just called us to see how we are doing, during these last 20-months. Thank you to everyone that has bought an air ticket from us instead of online, thank you for all the referrals and thank you for your continued support. Your kind words, referrals and support means the world to us. In return, we promise to deliver an exceptional travel service, and if I or my team are failing in our promise at any time, please tell us so that we can learn, rectify and be better. ... until next time - safe travels...

Chantell van den Heever Founding Agency Owner XL THE TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA I can be reached in Windhoek on 084 000 2230 / e-mail address chantell@xltravelpro.com

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