South Africa Reopening for Tourism

There has been plenty of talk and confusion on South Africa reopening for tourism. Here is everything you need to know about when and how South Africa will open its borders.

South Africa is one of Africa’s top tourist destinations and has welcomed 16.44 million visitors in 2018, contributing over 1.5 million jobs and R425.8 billion to the economy.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the 2018 contribution of the tourism sector in South Africa, directly accounted for 2.8% of real gross domestic product (GDP), which amounts to R139 billion, and this was projected to grow to R145,3 billion for 2019.

Tourism has been one of the hardest-hit sectors since the start of the pandemic! The World Bank reports that one in 20 jobs in sub-Saharan Africa is in the travel and tourism sector. The United World Tourism Organisation estimated that about 67 million international tourists visited Africa in 2018, generating about US$38 billion for the continent.

International travel has taken a plunge. Flights have been grounded. Borders have been closed. The South African Tourism industry was brought to a standstill and this has affected thousands of people.

A majority of European countries and a few Asian countries and great deal across the Caribbean have started welcoming tourists again ahead of the peak August holiday season. Why does it seem like the rest of the world is getting back to normality but South Africa is still under lockdown? So when is South African reopening its borders for tourists?

What’s happening in South Africa?

On 23 March, the South African government announced a national lockdown starting on 26 March 2020 to date.

South African Lockdown regulations are frequently amended and new laws are introduced almost every week due to the increased infection and death rates.

The South African lockdown was categorized into Levels 1-5 and the government has currently imposed a level 2 lockdown across the country entailing a number of restrictions and prohibitions.

At the moment, residents are required to stay home at all times except for work-related trips and the purchasing of essential goods and services.

Non-essential South African workers are encouraged to work from home if their employer allows this.

Masks are mandatory and every person must be confined to his or her place of residence from 10 pm until 4 am daily, except where a person has been granted a permit.

When is South Africa reopening for Tourism?

South Africa Reopening Borders
South Africa Map

Am I allowed to fly to South Africa now?

Yes, South African borders are open to returning citizens, and persons with South African residency or work permits. Flights to South Africa have been allowed since 19 April 2020.

Can I leave South Africa now?

Yes, both International and South African Citizens are permitted to leave South Africa.

South Africans can leave the country for:

  • Work
  • Study
  • Family Reunion
  • Take up permanent residency
  • Receive medical attention

What you need for essential travel

  • A copy of your valid South African passport;
  • A letter confirming your admissibility under the current circumstances from the embassy or other diplomatic/consular representative of the country they want to travel to;
  • If returning by road or connecting via flights, the proof submitted needs to include permission from each transiting country;
  • Proof of means of travel such as air or bus tickets and the intended date of departure.

South Africans who fall in these categories and satisfy the criteria can send an email to An email will be sent to travelers who meet the criteria to enable them to proceed with their travel arrangements.

Is South Africa open for domestic tourism?

Yes, South Africa is open for domestic travel with the following exceptions:

  • Hotels and accommodation establishments may continue to operate provided they are servicing business travelers, stranded international tourists, or have been designated as quarantine facilities.
  • Hotels and accommodations are only open for Intra- provincial travel for leisure purposes.
  • Although beaches, public swimming pools, and parks are closed. South African National Parks, Game farms, both public and private are allowed to cater to visitors from the same province.
  • Car rental companies are open and movement between provinces is also prohibited with some exceptions for mostly business/work-related.

Traveling during Level 2 in South Africa

As announced by President Ramaphosa on 15 August, alert level 2 will be in place from midnight on Monday, the 17th of August 2020.

The following changes will take effect under level 2:

  • All restrictions on inter-provincial travel will be lifted.
  • Accommodation, hospitality venues, and tours will be permitted according to approved protocols to ensure social distancing.
  • Restaurants, bars, and taverns will be permitted to operate according to approved protocols as to times of operation and numbers of people.
  • The curfew will remain in place between the hours of 10 pm and 4 am.

Is South Africa reopening their borders to international tourists

No, South African borders and not open for tourism yet. Only repatriation and humanitarian flights are operating at this point.

Will it be safe to travel to South Africa?

South Africa is safe to visit but the government has not announced an official South African Reopening date. There are some reports that have suggested late 2020 or early 2021, but the private tourism sector is aiming for a September reopening of South African borders. Only time will tell!

How can I support the South African Tourism Industry?

  • Don’t lose your curiosity and desire to learn about other countries and cultures, even if you have to explore from your couch, there are many virtual tours of Africa and the world, webinars, and YouTube channels to watch.
  • Purchase gift vouchers or gift cards for future hospitality visits when social distancing isn’t the modus operandi.
  • Read books about South Africa and articles from your favorite South African Bloggers.
  • Take the SA Specialist Online Course and put your knowledge to use on a future vacation.

Travel Insurance for South Africa

Use travel insurance while visiting South Africa so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of fun things to do in South Africa, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking, and trying some of the best food in the world.


Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

6 thoughts on “South Africa Reopening for Tourism”

  1. Currently, I’m a little bit disappointed because I’m in South Africa for the moment and I can’t go back to my country , I’m stuck. It’s an amazing country but he has his bad sides too .

  2. What an insightful post! I’m happy that I’ve read this blog and learnt about the tourism situation in South Africa! I cannot travel now to South Africa from Europe but I will definitely read about South Africa from books and online resources.

  3. It’s so great to see you guys are slowly re opening everything. Happy you will be getting tourists soon and hope they behave and take care!

  4. Cassie Bailey

    Very detailed post. I’m sure a lot of people will be looking for answers here.

  5. I’m from the States and South Africa is like my second home. I’m so sad that I can’t be there right now. I can’t wait to go back!

  6. I’m American and dreaming of the day I can visit South Africa! In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for SA wine to help support the economy! ?

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