Tourism in South Africa appears to be heading for a big fall after the South African government brushed aside the tourism industry’s calls to compromise on the new, tough and ‘unfair’ immigration laws experts believe will hurt the sector in the long run.
Industry watchers who were hoping that a recent meeting between the tourism minister and his counterpart of home affairs on the new immigration laws would have brought light at the end of the tunnel were disappointed and disgruntled.
At the centre of the polemic is a set of new regulations affecting the movement of children under the age of 18 and the requirement for biometric data for travellers, which came into effect on 26 May 2014.
CEO of Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), Mmatšatši Ramawela, said she was disappointed that the meeting did not yield significant changes to government’s stance on the two regulations which are of serious concern to the local and international tourism trade.
Other tourism institutions lamenting the Zuma administration’s attempt to make South Africa a ‘fortress’ and another European Union include the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA) and the Airline Association of Southern Africa (AASA).
“We are hugely concerned that the new regulations will make South Africa to be considered inaccessible to an increased number of visitors,” Ramawela said in a statement released this week.
The TBCSA contends that the new rules will add a new layer of red tape and administrative hurdles for inbound and outbound travellers, which may result in increased costs, extended travel time and dent South Africa’s reputation as a preferred tourism destination internationally.
It is believed that the industry is still open for discussions with the government on the following burning issues:
- The requirement for all children under the age of 18 exiting or entering the country to carry a copy of their unabridged birth certificates
- The requirement for nationals of countries for which South Africa requires visas on entry to make in-person visa applications at South Africa’s foreign missions for biometric visa processing prior to departure from their country of residence.
From TBCSA, final editing by Issa Sikiti da Silva)
Photo by Wicked Web