Visa rules 'putting 1 million new jobs at risk'

Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba should be asked why he is not taking heed of the private sector's concerns regarding the decline in tourist numbers and the resulting outcry by the tourism industry, Beverley Schäfer, DA Western Cape spokesperson on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, said on Tuesday.

According to the latest Tourism Business Index of the Tourism Business Council of SA business performance levels across the tourism value chain have dropped from 99.9 points in the first quarter to 83.6 points in the second quarter. This is the lowest performance level since the third quarter of 2011.

"These [visa] regulations can potentially destroy 22 000 jobs, split families and prevent people from entering SA that could positively contribute to our economy," she said.

Schäfer chaired a meeting of the Western Cape Provincial Government's standing committee on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture. At the meeting the province's Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde answered questions by committee members regarding concerns relating to South Africa's visa regulations.

"Today the standing committee heard of the negative impact these onerous regulations have on the tourism industry, especially on the Western Cape," said Schäfer.

"Once again Minister Gigaba has failed the people of SA and the Western Cape. He has yet to respond to my report hand delivered to his office or letters sent to him."

Schäfer said she wants Gigaba to indicate where the review is that President Jacob Zuma promised in his State of the Nation Address and where the inter-ministerial team is which Gigaba must lead to investigate complaints raised about the new visa regulations.

She wants Gigaba to account to the national portfolio committee on tourism "for the negative impact and consequences these regulations have had on the tourism industry and the economy at large".

"The goal in the National Development Plan (NDP) is to create an additional one million jobs in the tourism sector, which Minister Gigaba has put at risk in his refusal to back down and his department's recent denial of a negative impact on tourism," said Schäfer.

READ: New tourism markets in SA will 'simply fall away'

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