As countries boost economies with ’vaccine tourism’, Africans still waiting
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As the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on the global tourism industry, a number of countries are starting to offer tourists the vaccine against the deadly virus.
Despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) speaking out against unfair allocation of vaccine doses and the practice of jumping the queue to get vaccinated, some nations took the opportunity to lure people to their countries for leisure travel.
So far, famous tourism destinations such as the Maldives, Bali, Abu Dhabi as well as bigger countries such as Russia and the United States, are attracting foreigners with tourist vaccines.
While most of these countries offer free vaccines, the United States increased flight prices from Mexico by 30 to 40 percent. Meanwhile American Airlines reported an increased demand for flights to the United States from Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico, Afar magazine reported.
In Russia, the vaccine is offered with prices ranging from $1 500 and $2 500 in addition to flight costs.
Vaccine tourism might not be possible in Africa as the continent is still facing the challenge of being stigmatised and considered inept to deal with the pandemic. It has been placed on the red or black travel lists of many nations.
Vaccine shortages might also be an issue for African countries to even consider such measures to salvage their dwindling economies.
According to the WHO, just 1.5 percent of the 2.7 billion vaccines distributed from the COVAX programme were administered in Africa. Eighteen African countries have used over 80 percent of their vaccine stocks, and another eight countries have fully depleted their supply.
University of South Africa Professor Elizabeth du Preez says that vaccination tourism cannot be pursued as a niche while South African citizens remain waiting.
“Vaccination tourism forms part of the long-standing ethical debate where resources are exploited at the expense of locals. In the post-Covid-19 era, there is a call for greater emphasis on sustainable and responsible practices, especially toward social inclusion and livelihood of communities,” du Preez wrote in her report.
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa has made it clear that the country will not deny visitors vaccines saying that it’s a humanitarian issue.
In June, the neighbouring country opened its borders to South Africans who wanted the vaccine.
According to Travel News, Healthpoint Hospital in Harare privately administers the vaccine to foreign tourists for $100.
The hospital uses two doses of the vaccine, which will either be Sinopharm and Sinovac, both from China.