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The TBCSA Immigration Impact Assessment Report & Probe as visa law row hots up

22 June 2015  
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SAACIMatters VOLUME 28 NO.6

The TBCSA is hosting a press briefing on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 to release the second Immigration Impact Assessment Report.

Please click here to download the executive summer of the report.

 

Probe as visa law row hots up

The debacle over SA's new stringent visa regulations has taken a turn, with Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom telling MPs on Wednesday that a survey would be used to assess the scale of the devastation to the tourism industry.

A total of 21,000 jobs were at risk and the country stood to lose 270,000 prospective tourists as a result of the "unintended consequences" of the onerous travel regulations, the minister said.

The Department of Tourism would conduct the survey to gauge the regulations’ effect. This would involve speaking to industry stakeholders, including airlines.

"We are getting information from a variety of airlines, which have bookings into and out of SA. We (also) rely on (information) from tour operators.… We should hear the concerns and analyse the extent to which these regulations had unintended consequences."

Last week Cabinet announced the establishment of an inter-ministerial team under Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to look into the objections to the controversial regulations.

In the past month alone, airline ticket sales to SA declined at least 30%. There was also a big decrease in tourism from SA’s two biggest Asian markets — India and China.

"Iata (the International Air Transport Association) … has reported that ticketing for June 2015 is 32% down on June 2014.… Determination of policy impact on tourism does not take a long time after implementation of policies. Forward bookings, regular market operators’ brochures and levels of investment in marketing spend by private sector are some of the key indicators in this regard," Mr Hanekom said.

The new travel requirements stipulate that foreigners who want to visit the country must apply for visas in person at South African missions abroad as well as have their biometric data captured there.

Also, parents and guardians travelling with minors must do so in possession of an unabridged birth certificate showing both parents’ details. This requirement applies to children 17 years old and younger.

If one parent is travelling with a minor, he or she must be in possession of an affidavit of consent from the absent parent.

Mr Hanekom was at pains to stress that he had not locked horns with Mr Gigaba over the new regulations and that his department would not compromise national security. South African Tourism Services Association CEO David Frost said the organisation had already commissioned research on how the stringent requirements would affect the travel industry.

"Our members are directly affected, so we are already busy with that. We will feed whatever we get to the department provided that the government commits to accept it.

"We (will supply Mr) Hanekom with precise data, but the government must not wait for us to prove that we are on our knees before it acts," Mr Frost cautioned.

Democratic Alliance spokesman for tourism James Vos said since 2012 domestic tourism numbers had dropped from 12-million to 9-million, and that revenue declined to R18.5bn from R21.8bn.

"The tourism industry contributes 9% of our Gross Domestic Product and employs 1.5-million South Africans. Its growth and success is vital to … our economy and creating jobs for the 36% of South Africans who cannot find work," Mr Vos said.

By Khulekani Magubane, 18 June 2015, 06:07