Visa rules dull Christmas cheer for tourism - DA

2015-12-22 10:06

Cape Town - Failure to relax South Africa's visa regulations has left tourism numbers flat this festive season, the Democratic Alliance has said.

South Africa introduced onerous visa regulations earlier this year. They require travellers with children to produce unabridged birth certificates. Single parents travelling with children have to provide additional paperwork from the other parent.

When the regulations led to an outcry in the tourism industry, Cabinet agreed to some concessions. These would however only be implemented in January.

DA tourism spokesperson James Vos said the government's stubbornness was costing the tourism economy billions of rands, as tourists did not want to travel to South Africa because of the “difficult and cumbersome” entry.

“South Africa’s tourism industry should be thriving, but it is not because onerous visa regulations are repelling tourists' interest in our country. If the ANC government acted to relax the visa regulations, as it promised to do in October, festive season in-bound travel could have been seamless and booming." 

Vos said he would write to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, chair of the inter-ministerial committee on visa regulations, to fast-track the roll-out of electronic visas.

“The e-visa system is the solution to our current visa regulation catastrophe, and will facilitate easier access for tourists to South Africa, if only the ANC government would move to implement the system.”

On Monday, it was reported that between 10 and 20 families per day were being denied travel to South Africa from London's Heathrow Airport, as they did not meet the visa requirements.

Last month, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said implementing Cabinet's concessions would take time.

"If we proceed carelessly without that legal instrument, we will be undermining our own legislation and placing ourselves in a constitutionally compromising situation for which we will be legally liable," he said.

He said the status quo would remain until the necessary action had been taken, including installing equipment at ports of entry that could capture biometric data.

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