Cape Town - Following more than a year of discussions, lobbying and turmoil the IMC (Inter-Ministerial Committee) announced changes to visa requirements for people travelling in and out of South Africa in October.
According to Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, the department plans to communicate new changes to the country’s visa requirements with travel agencies and embassies across the globe - but to date official communication around its implementation has not been received by key organisations and institutions, leaving room for confusion such as this incident involving Idris Alba and his daughter over the weekend.
While Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) has welcomed the changes to the visa requirements stating "its significance will once again position South Africa as a preferred tourist destination”, FEDHASA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa says the department of home affairs has a responsibility to communicate the changes more effectively.
"We look forward to the suggestions and actions being implemented, making it easier for foreigners, especially tourists, to travel to and from South Africa but to date we have not had any official communication from the department on how the changes will be implemented," said Tshivhengwa.
Tshivhengwa said it was essential for the tourism and business sector to engage and collaborate in order to simplify the admin systems and processes.
As an association FEDHASA, together with its partners, says it is committed to “providing leadership and unity within the industry to grow the tourism economy”, resulting in its Joint Industry Association Partnership. Tshivhengwa said it would be meeting on a regular basis to "collaborate, share information and connect with the relevant industry role players in an effort to speak as one voice within the Western Cape as well as on a national level" regarding these key issues affecting the industry.
Tshivhengwa confirmed that the next Association Partnership meeting would take place in early 2016 and that its key focus was being able to communicate the implementation of the visa rule changes to its clients.
At the time of the announcement by the department of home affairs, the following changes were expected to be implement over three months:
• The capturing of biometrics at ports of entry starting with a pilot at R Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka airports
• Look at introducing an Accredited Tourism Company Programme for countries like China, India and Russia
• Consider a long-term Multiple Entry visa for a period exceeding 3 months and up to 3 years for frequent travellers (for business meetings), business people and academics
• Principles will issue letters confirming permission for children to travel on school tours
• Extend the validity of the parental consent affidavit to six months
- South African children travelling out of the country will still
be required to submit the current child-travel requirements, including a
parental consent affidavits as a means to protect the minors
- The validity of this affidavit will be extended to no longer than 6 months.
- Details of parents will also be printed in passports, so that parents whose particulars are printed would therefore not be required to carry the birth certificates. (However the DHA advises that this form of identification still be carried as a form of proof.
It’s a birth certificate that reflects the particulars of both parents of the child. All children born in South Africa after 14 March 2013 were issued with a valid unabridged birth certificate automatically and free of charge. Everyone born before that, and those from countries who do not automatically issue unabridged certificates, must apply for the document well before their travel date.