Task team to iron out implementation of new visa rules

2014-09-12 15:22

A task team will be established to examine the implementation of the home affairs department’s controversial new visa regulations.

“In many instances we have engaged with many people who had specific concerns about the regulations,” Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told reporters in Pretoria today after a meeting with airline representatives and travel agents.

“We’ve agreed with the industry that we will establish a task team ... so that we can look at the better implementation of the regulations and iron out any other issues which might arise.”

An announcement could be expected next week about the regulations and issues specifically raised by the tourism industry.

Under the department’s new visa regulations, from October 1, parents would have to provide an unabridged birth certificate for all travelling children under 18.

In addition, details of the child’s father and mother have to be supplied. This will apply 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.

The legislation is being implemented to deter child trafficking and ensure the safety of children.

It was clear the department’s work affected the tourism industry, and vice versa.

“We need to work together so that we are able to iron out any challenges which do arise in the course of either one of us conducting our businesses,” the minister said.

He said the industry had emphasised that South Africa was competing with other destinations around the world.

The department had acknowledged there was a greater need to intensify communication with stakeholders and missions abroad about the new regulations.

A time frame for the task team had not been set.

The task team was not a review of the regulations, but of their implementation.

“It’s how do we better implement these regulations,” Gigaba said.

He said Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan met Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and the tourism council last week.

“We are almost ready to address in complete terms some of the concerns which they have raised with us that we believe are going to respond favourably ... We are going to be considering other proposals that have been made regarding unabridged birth certificates and other issues.”

The department had an open mind about proposals about the regulations, as long as its needs, especially around child trafficking and security, were accommodated.

In the meantime, the implementation of the new regulations would proceed as planned.

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