Tourism experts have spoken out against the amendments of the Immigration Act by the South African ministry of home affairs.
Bearing in mind that the draconian laws, which some have likened to the European Union’s tough legislation, industry watchers warned that these ‘ill-conceived’ laws could hurt the tourism industry, and scare away investors.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has also entered the fray, saying that the new Immigration Act should enhance rather than hamper travel and tourism facilitation.
TBCSA said this week that it was concerned that some regulations included in the new Act posed a significant threat to the sustainability of a large portion of businesses in the local travel and tourism trade.
“We acknowledge, at the outset, the prerogative and duty of the Department of Home Affairs to protect our borders and tackle issues around trafficking of people, especially children,” TBCSA CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela said in a statement.
“Our concern is that two specific regulations, namely the new requirement for an unabridged birth certificate for minors, as well as the provision for in-person collection of biometric data, will have a significant detrimental impact on tourism not only to South Africa, but also to the neighbouring countries whose tourism activities are linked to South Africa.”
South Africa makes most of its tourism money thanks to visitors from Africa, namely Nigeria and countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
But getting a tourist visa to travel to South Africa has become a mountain to climb for many African visa applicants.
Some say reports of South Africa becoming a safe haven for criminal activities, including drug and human trafficking, prostitution, child pornography or sexual exploitation of minors, allegedly fomented by foreigners, has forced the Zuma administration to adopt an anti-foreigner attitude.
However, Ramawela said while the travel and tourism trade appreciated the government’s tough stance against the commercial sexual exploitation of children, it but felt that greater engagement was key to find a workable solution which would not have adverse implications for the travel and tourism trade.
Photo: TBCSA CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela