Happy new year to you all. We are back and I wish all readers a very prosperous new year. Tourism is at the cross road and we shall overcome hopefully this year. The rebound need to happen quickly and we need it really fast. International tourism is the driving force behind. Tourism. The Ghana Health Service has announced new vaccine requirements for all travelers to Ghana effective at midnight (12:00 a.m.) local time, December 12, 2021. The following information is from the Ghana Health Service’s press release:
Travelers to Ghana
All persons 18 years-old and above arriving in Ghana will be required to provide evidence of full vaccination for a COVID-19 vaccine. All unvaccinated Ghanaians and residents of Ghana who are currently outside of the country and intend to return within 14 days from midnight December 12, 2021, are exempted. However, they will be vaccinated on arrival at the airport in Ghana.
Traveling out of Ghana
All Ghanaians travelling out of the country are to be fully vaccinated effective midnight December 12, 2021.
Definition of Fully Vaccinated
A person is said to be fully vaccinated when he or she has taken the full dose of vaccines approved and registered by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana. You need two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna or Sputnik V to be declared as fully vaccinated. One dose of Johnson and Johnson vaccine is required to be declared fully vaccinated.
Other Arrival Requirements remain unchanged
The 72-hour Negative PCR test requirement prior to travel remains in effect.
Completion of the Health Declaration Form remains in effect.
All persons who arrive in Ghana will undergo Antigen testing at the airport.
The CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council says she is against a global mandate to require a COVID-19 vaccination in order to travel. “We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel,” Gloria Guevara said in remarks at the Reuters Next Conference. “If you require the vaccination before travel, that takes us to discrimination. “I don’t think governments will require vaccination next year” for travel, Gloria Guevara, head of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said. “If they do that they will kill their sector.”
It is reported that several health experts said during the Reuters Next Conference that the mass roll-out of coronavirus vaccines would not result in enough people having immunity to be able to effectively stop COVID-19 from spreading. Those same health experts say the vaccine will only work, and create something of a herd immunity, if 70-75 percent of people are inoculated.
Dale Fisher, chairman of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Outbreak Alert and Response Network, said: “We won’t get back to normal quickly. We know we need to get to herd immunity and we need that in a majority of countries, so we are not going to see that in 2021. There might be some countries that might achieve it but even then that will not create ‘normal’ especially in terms of border controls.”
Keen to restart travel as soon as possible, global travel organizations are pushing for Covid-19 testing over vaccine mandates. The debate still lingers on. the C.E.O of the WTTC has set the ball rolling and travel and tourism is at a cross road. The roll out of vaccines against Covid-19 has intensified debate about whether they should be made mandatory, with the head of a major tourism lobby saying that doing so would cause irreparable harm to the struggling sector. Those first in line to get the jabs include the elderly and vulnerable, who “are the last people who will travel”, she said. Instead, rules for virus testing before departure are likely to be bolstered.
These are challenging times especially knowing how tourism can drive and boost many economies. We in Ghana recently benefited immensely from tourism revenue during the year of return. Many tourists unwilling to take the vaccines may opt to stay home which may reduce international arrivals drastically. Its obvious that in many countries, not all citizens will agree to take the vaccines though mandatory. It’s for us all to agree on the way forward.
The controversy surrounding the tennis star Novak Djokovic is one of many challenges that if not handle well could kill sport tourism due to this mandatory vaccine. CNN reports that he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, but a reported visa bungle raised questions about his participation at the season-opening grand slam. Tournament organizers announced on Tuesday that Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption — a decision which has provoked a backlash among Australians.
However, according to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Border Force contacted the state Victoria government after learning of an issue with the visa submitted by Djokovic’s team while the Serb was on his way to Australia. He reportedly traveled to Australia on a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated, Australian news outlets reported. Acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that the government would not support Djokovic’s visa application.
“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam,” wrote Pulford.
“We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors,” she added.
Australian news outlets reported that the Australian Border Force subsequently sought support from the Victorian government to facilitate Djokovic’s entry because Victoria partners with Tennis Australia in running the Australian Open. Both The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Djokovic would likely be allowed off the plane and into Melbourne, but the situation was still ongoing. Australians have responded with anger and skepticism to the news that men’s tennis No. 1 has been granted an exemption to compete.
There had been uncertainty over Djokovic’s participation after players were told they would have to be fully vaccinated in order to participate or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts. The exemption from the vaccine mandate means he will defend his 2021 title in Melbourne. He has not publicly revealed his vaccination status but voiced opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates in April 2020. “Personally, I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” he said in a Facebook live chat, according to Reuters.
But in May of last year, Djokovic said vaccination was a matter of personal choice: “I will keep the decision as to whether I’m going to get vaccinated or not to myself. It’s an intimate decision, and I don’t want to go into this game of pro and against vaccines, which the media is unfortunately creating these days.
“However, it’s ultimately up to him to discuss with the public his condition if he chooses to do that and the reason why he received his exemption.” Acting Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford told reporters “nobody has had special treatment.”
Djokovic’s exemption comes two weeks after Russian tennis player Nata Vikhlyantseva revealed she would be unable to travel to the tournament because her vaccine is not recognized by local health authorities. Under the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) current guidelines, a medical exemption is granted to individuals who have an “acute major medical condition (e.g. undergoing major surgery or hospital admission for a serious illness.”
The other remaining grounds for a medical exemption concern people who have suffered a “serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, without another cause identified” and a vaccinee who “is a risk to themselves or others during the vaccination process,” due to an “underlying developmental or mental health disorder.”
Lastly, exemptions may be given to anyone with a “PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, where vaccination can be deferred until six months,” and in cases where individuals have received “anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma therapy.”
In June 2020, Djokovic tested positive for coronavirus following an exhibition event he organized in Croatia, but since then there have been no reports of him being re-infected with the virus.
The backlash against the exemption comes after Melbourne residents spent more than 260 days confined to their homes, forbidden to leave except to buy groceries or other essential items, mostly in two long stretches from July to October, 2020 and August to October, 2021.
Australia has started 2022 with a record number of new Covid-19 cases due to a growing outbreak centered in the eastern states. New South Wales, the most populous state, and Victoria — home to Melbourne — both posted daily record case numbers on Saturday, health department figures showed. Many commented on social media that thousands of Australians had been stranded abroad, unable to return to their home country even to visit sick or dying relatives, due to Australia’s strict border controls and quotas on arrivals. This controversy clearly shows what is yet to come.
Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visit our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations