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  • Visitors to South Africa will see a strong emphasis on cleaning and social distancing – beyond Covid-19 – if the department of tourism gets its way.
  • Under draft new government norms, measures implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be continuously communicated by every establishment, all the time.
  • Tourists may be met with an SMS as soon as they step off a plane, asked to fill in forms to estimate their risk, and be told about cleaning protocols at every establishment they visit. 
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In order to lure tourists back to South Africa, everyone catering to their needs will need to stick to cleaning and social-distancing requirements, the department of tourism says – and make a big deal about it.

Under draft national norms and standards published by tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane for public input, everyone from hotels to casinos will be required to keep communicating their safety measures to visitors, as much to send a message as to ensure their safety.

The rules are intended to provide reassurance, and so "promote traveller confidence in support of resurgent demand", the department says. 

"Managing the Covid-19 health risk is currently a key factor in visitor expectations and the existence of a specified universal measures for the destination will position South Africa as equipped for a safe travel experience."

The proposed measures all deal with the kind of cleaning, use of personal protective equipment, and social distancing measures that have become routine. But for many sub-sectors, such as curio shops, there are specific sections on building or rebuilding confidence, by communicating protocols to visitors on arrival, or ideally even before they arrive.

If all proposals are implemented, visitors would get a steady drumbeat of warnings and reassurance everywhere they go, as soon as they arrive in South Africa. Newcomers would receive SMS messages when they turn on their phones in airports filled with signs. Any accommodation establishment would ask for their medical and travel history, while outlining details of cleaning is done. 

The rules are intended "for the safe operations of tourism sector in the context of Covid-19 and beyond".

"The policy response assumes that it will be some time before the pandemic subsides or until a widely accessible vaccine or other appropriate scientific solution is available," the document reads.

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