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Published on : Wednesday, June 24, 2015
The study has found that South African Tourism Markets have been negatively impacted by the changes in visa regulations. It also estimates that the number of tourists will decline by 100,000 this year, following a 66,000 decline in 2014.
It blames this on changes in regulations. Government wants people coming into the country to appear in person while applying for a visa. It also requires all minors travelling to and from South Africa to be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate.
“Lost money in our economy was R886-million direct spend in our economy. This equates to R2.6 billion direct and indirect spending in our economy. If the loss continues at the rate at which it happened last year, we are looking at a loss of around R4.1 billion direct and indirect expenditure in our economy,” says Grant Thornton Senior Researcher, Lee-Anne Bac.
Peru and the Philippines are among the few countries in the world that require minors travelling alone or with single parents or a third party to have a copy of a birth certificate and/or a letter of consent from the absent parent. However, this law only applies to citizens of those countries. Bac recommends that such regulations be the same in South Africa where it should not apply to tourists.
Tourism Business Council of South Africa Chairperson, Mavuso Msimang, says there was no proper consultation by the Home Affairs Department.
Currently the Department of Social Development has sent personnel to Malawi to bring back two trafficked South African children.
The council CEO, Mnatsatsi Ramawela, says they are not against government’s plans to address trafficking or to strengthen national security, but they believe government would have achieved its plans without compromising the tourism sector and economic growth.
“Our minister is constantly fed with up to the minute relevant information to keep that pressure within cabinet. But most importantly to drive them quickly to the review process. We are hoping that what we are going to do now is to collect the data and say, ‘Minister, here is what is going on the ground in addition to this report.’ So that when he presents to cabinet they would then see there’s a need for this to come very quickly. Remember, we are not the only once putting pressure. There are Busa and the agricultural sector as well,” says Ramawela.