In 10 days’ time the new visa regulations will come into effect, which will have disastrous effects on our tourism industry. This is despite the fact that the review of visa regulations President Zuma “prioritised” in his SONA has yet to be convened.
President Zuma has once again blown a lot of hot air into the parliamentary chamber, in an attempt to pacify the tourism industry, yet has not delivered on his commitment. I will therefore personally be attending the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee next week Tuesday, to argue that the implementation of these regulations must be suspended until a review is instituted by way of a special task team.
The new visa regulations, which are set to apply from 1 June 2015, will require parents entering South Africa to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children. In addition, South Africans and foreigners have to provide details of the child’s father and mother. This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children.
When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel.
Unabridged birth certificate applications can take up to eight weeks to complete, and Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents.
A child denied boarding by an airline ultimately means a family cannot travel and, by industry estimates, until traveller awareness is 100%, tourist arrivals to South Africa could be negatively impacted by up to 20%. Based on 2013 numbers, 536 000 foreign visitors could be denied travel. This is simply unacceptable.
The tourism industry is already under severe pressure. Minister Hanekom recently revealed that between 2012 and 2014, both domestic tourism numbers and revenue generated have declined. Domestic tourism numbers dropped from, 12.5 million to 9 million, and revenue generated fell from R 21.8 billion to R 18.5 billion
These regulations will only make the situation worse. According to the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa, the new regulations could cost the tourism sector over R6.8 billion and result in severe job cuts.
In addition, the Western Cape Provincial Parliament held public hearings on the new regulations and the impact thereof, which Minister Gigaba was summoned to attend. In September last year I presented the findings of those public hearings to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, calling for an urgent debate. I have to date heard nothing from the Speakers office.
The facts are at hand and the writing is on the wall – the new regulations will kill jobs, tear families apart and deter tourists from visiting our country.
Therefore Minister Gigaba and Minister Hanekom must stop talking about the “unintended consequences” of these new regulations. The consequences are now real, quantifiable and well known by both ministers.
South Africa needs to be open for business with the world to grow our tourism economy and create much needed jobs.
As Shadow Minister of Tourism, I will continue to fight for the interests of all those employed in the tourism industry.
Shadow Minister of Tourism
Source : Democratic Alliance