Emigration figures are climbing in South Africa. Image: Adobe Stock

Emigration rush: Many South Africans leaving on one-way tickets

Travel agents say they are handling a number of flight bookings for South Africans who have decided emigration is their best option.


Emigration figures are climbing in South Africa. Image: Adobe Stock

Travel agents say they have been seeing a spike in South Africans booking tickets for the purposes of emigration in recent months.

Travel bans and border closures have deterred the ability and desire of most South Africans to travel outside the country. South Africans also face mandatory self-paid quarantines when travelling to most destinations outside South Africa.

These obstacles have resulted in a slump in demand for international travel.  However, travel agents report they are handling more bookings for South Africans leaving the country for good.


TravelNews reports tha several travel agents are handling an unprecedented number of reservations for South Africans leaving the country forever.

One travel agent told Travelnews she and her colleague had booked more than 2,000 one-way tickets for emigrating clients since July 2020. Another claimed to have assisted about 25 South Africans with emigration flights over the last four months. 

The agent who assisted the 25 families several similar bookings pending for clients to give her the final go-ahead on travel dates.


Countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are currently off limits to South Africans due to border closures and travel bans. Some South Africans with dual nationality are moving to countries where they face no barriers to entry. That is because they already have rights to live in those countries by virtue of holding the nationality.

A travel agent told Travelnews she had seen increasing numbers of UK passport holders and UK ancestral visa holders inquiring about flights for emigration.

Travel consultant Lize Roodt said Mauritius, the UK, Ireland and Portugal were popular destinations for South Africans choosing emigration at this time.


South Africans have been forced to ponder their lives here under the prolonged national lockdown. Many are concerned about the economy and their future in the country.

“Many of my clients had been planning to emigrate for a while, saying they did not see a future for themselves in South Africa, and the COVID situation simply spurred them on to move their dates forward,” Roodt told TravelNews.

Travel agent Fiona Watermeyer said COVID-19 was a catalyst pushing people who had previously considered emigrating to spring into action. Watermeyer said she was handling requests from South Africans wanting to travel to Canada and Australia on LSD (look, see and decide) trips.    

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