Cape Town - There is no point in blaming Ebola or the downturn in the Chinese economy for the 38% drop in tourism from China, because South Africa brought this problem on itself, according to the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The sharp decline in Chinese tourist number was confirmed this week by Stats SA.
“The main reason is the new visa regulations, which require all potential tourists to report to either Beijing or Shanghai to apply in person for visas,” said Janine Myburgh, president of the Chamber.
“That’s like asking people in Cape Town to go to Durban to apply for a visa to visit Brazil. Of course it puts off tourists and anyone who can’t see that should open their eyes.”
She said that in the past travel agents in China sold package tours to South Africa. The travel agent would then handle the visa applications for the whole party. They understood the procedure and it worked well.
Once the visa applications had to be made in person by each individual tourist at one of only two cities "in the vast land of China" they lost interest. It was easier to sell tours to other countries, said Myburgh.
“The really sad part about this is that it was predictable and the Government was warned that it would happen. And so a big growth area in one of our most successful industries was choked off. Even if the visa regulations are changed, it will be very difficult to regain our share of the Chinese tourism market,” said Myburgh.
She pointed out that the slump in Chinese tourism came before the requirement for unabridged birth certificates was introduced, so the cause could be narrowed down to the inconvenient and costly visa procedures.
“We can expect the situation to worsen with the requirement for unabridged birth certificates,” she added.
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