China, UK, Australia issue travel warnings for SA
Issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government via its website, the amber travel alert states: “Residents intending to visit the country or who are already there should monitor the situation, exercise caution, attend to personal safety and avoid protests and large gatherings of people.”
The move does not bode well for tourism from China – South Africa’s biggest trading partner – which Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom confirmed was already in decline since the second half of 2014.
It also advised Chinese residents in South Africa who needed assistance to call a 24-hour hotline or contact the Chinese embassy.
Amber is the lowest form of advisory issued, with red advisories requiring travel plan adjustments and black advisories indicating a need to avoid all travel to that specific country.
The UK and Australia have also added warnings of the recent xenophobic violence taking place in Johannesburg, Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
“There have been reports of localised disturbances and violence in Johannesburg, Durban and other parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal province. Monitor local media for more information and avoid affected areas,” said the British Foreign Office.
The Australian government stated: “We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in South Africa due to the high level of serious crime. There have been reports of race-related violence in the villages of Kwa Mushu and Umlazi in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and in the central business districts of Durban and Johannesburg.”
The decline has been attributed largely to Ebola fears and the implementation of strict new visa regulations requiring in-person visa applications for biometric data as well as the new travel rule requiring an unabridged birth certificate for children traveling to, from or through SA.
The rules for children were put on hold but will once again come into effect on June 1.