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Lutho Mtongana, Bloomberg
01 Jun 2015 15:27
South Africa introduced new visa rules on Monday to combat human
trafficking that business and tourism groups warn will curb travel to the
country and stifle economic growth.
The regulations require tourists to apply in person at a visitor centre
for travel documents, which need to be in English, and that all children must
have a birth certificate with full details of both parents. This will hurt an
industry that accounts for 9% of the country’s gross domestic product,
according to the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci).
“The negative implications to the tourism industry is counterproductive
to the economic development intentions we have as a country,” Sacci president
Vusi Khumalo said by phone.
Earlier, the Johannesburg-based chamber described
the law as “tantamount to economic sabotage,” in an e-mailed statement.
More than nine million tourists visit South Africa each year.
“We don’t see how asking children to get permission for traveling
without their parents is economic sabotage,” Department of Home Affairs
spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said by phone. “Those who argue that asking
children to ask for consent is economic sabotage need to show us how our
economy develops when children don’t get consent to travel.”
Deterring touristsTourism Minister Derek Hanekom said on
May 14 the regulations are deterring tourists from travelling to South Africa. “It would be
difficult not to conclude that the visa regulations are having an impact,” he
said. “We are worried about it. We cannot sweep it under the carpet.”
He did not provide figures, but the Southern Africa Tourism Services
Association (Satsa), along with the Southern
African Travel Agents and the Board of Airline Representatives South
Africa, have reported that from May to December last year, the country lost 66 000 foreign tourists as a result of new regulations being introduced by
the Department of Home Affairs.
“The total direct, indirect and
induced impact on the economy in 2014 was a negative R2.6 billion and a
potential loss of more than 5 800 jobs,” they reportedly said.
Air China announced it was postponing direct flights to South Africa until the
end of October because of the new travel regulations and the recent xenophobic
International tour operators and travel agents have also removed South Africa from their destination brochures due to the new regulations.
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