Post-pandemic travel

An overview

Amid the uncertainties of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, most countries restricted movement, both domestically and for international travel. Restrictions on international travel ranged from closing entire borders to quarantines, screening measures, and bans on visitors from countries deemed “high risk.” Restrictions on movement within countries were often strict as well: prohibitions on travelling between provinces, bans on non-essential movement, curfews, and rules that limited gatherings.

The restrictions on international movement happened quickly, generally before domestic restrictions. For example, at the start of February 2020, as reports grew of the potential severity and transmissibility of the virus, a handful of African states imposed screening measures at international entry points. Two months later, most African countries had implemented an international travel ban and closed their borders. By the start of 2021, most countries had lifted these bans and used screening measures to mitigate rather than eliminate risk. For the remainder of the year and into 2022, selected travel bans and border closures were implemented in line with the perceived risks of further waves of infection and the discovery of new variants and sub-variants, some of which appeared to be more transmissible than previous ones.

Later, countries all over the world began restricting movement according to local risk factors and domestic assessments, rather than coordinated regional policies that followed international guidance. By mid-2021, some African countries dropped all restrictions on international movement and merely screened incoming visitors, while others still barred international arrivals. In 2022, the situation remains fluid, with countries implementing—and sometimes abolishing—travel restrictions on short notice. In some cases, this affects mandatory health certificates and vaccination pass requirements.

Through it all, the number of countries in Africa that offer an e-visa increased from 21 in 2019 to 24 in 2020–2022. The total has since remained unchanged; South Africa and Morocco introduced e-visas in 2022, while at time of writing, Cabo Verde and Guinea Bissau’s e-visa portals had become inaccessible.

"Our continent is renowned for its beauty and the quality of establishments and high service excellence. However, to harness this potential we have to work together. The only way to achieve success and unprecedented tourism growth, and job creation, is by coming together, capitalising on each other’s strengths and working as one.”

Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana

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