Tourists put off by SA rules

2014-08-22 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Travel agencies and tour operators in South America and Asia have reportedly started to cancel trips to South Africa because of the red tape introduced by new immigration regulations.

Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of for Economic Affairs yesterday told sister paper Die Burger he has received several e-mails from local hotel managers and owners, travel agents and tour operators who expressed their concern at the impact the new regulations is having.

He said most of them have received correspondence from South America where travellers are unhappy with the regulations. Winde said both Brazil and Argentina also have strict laws governing travel with minors. Tourists from these countries must have their unabridged birth certificates translated from Portuguese and Spanish. “It takes longer than two weeks to have a birth certificate translated into English and it costs more than R1 000 per certificate. Winde said this extra cost has put travellers from non-English speaking countries off from coming to South Africa.

South America is an important tourist market for South Africa. In 2012, the Western Cape hosted more than 80 000 visitors from Brazil, while visitors from Argentina had increased by 26% between 2009 and 2012.

He said the regulations will however hurt inbound Asian tours the most. “We expect that at least 70% of the tourists we expected from this region will now go elsewhere.” He said the Asian market had grown by 55% since 2009.

He said the congress sector will also be impacted by the new regulations, which requires delegates to pay for finger prints.

Winde said these concerns will form the basis of a petition to the National Assembly against the regulations which home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba had described as “a turning point for South Africa” which will according to Gigaba, make it easier for South Africa to source critical skills from overseas, among others.

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