Fears for tourism as confusion reigns

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Timothy Bernard.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Cape Town – The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association has been inundated by letters of concern from tour operators around the world following the implementation of South Africa’s new immigration regulations, says its chief executive.

David Frost said the requirement that parents carry an original unabridged birth certificate or certified copy for all children, as well as a sworn translation, if needed, was “a hurdle that damages our competitiveness as a destination”.

“There is widespread confusion on exactly what is required. For example, in the event of a single parent who does not have contact with the other biological parent, an affidavit is required. But what information should this contain?”

This added time and costs to potential travellers’ plans.

The concern has been echoed by the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance and the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations.

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa said some of the regulations, including the move to biometric visas which required “in-person” applications, posed a significant threat to the sustainability of many businesses in the local travel and tourism trade.

The council had asked for a reprieve to come to terms with the changes.

“Whilst we are cognisant that this will assist in improving security and monitoring, the fact that biometric data gathering points will only be available in limited centres in certain countries that cover vast geographic areas, is hugely problematic for the trade and tourists alike,” the council said in a statement.

“We’ve spent the past two weeks listening to our members and engaging with our stakeholders.

“Following this consultation, we have written to the minister of home affairs requesting a reprieve and an opportunity to make representations on this matter,” said council chief executive Mmatšatši Ramawela.

At a recent press briefing Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said “we believe it is imperative that we tighten our legislation as we continue to ensure the effective and secure management of immigration in the national interest, including economic, social and cultural development.”

Cape Argus

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