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08 Jun 2015 15:07
Malusi Gigaba, the minister of home affairs. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)
As new regulations concerning travelling
children have come into effect, French tourism professionals think these will deter
families from visiting South Africa. A French union of travel agents and a tour
operators’ association say the
requirements lack clarity, adding that South African departments have ignored them
when they expressed their concerns.
Since June 1,
foreign children travelling in or out South Africa must carry an unabridged
birth certificate when they come from a visa-exempt country.
Depending on whom
they travel with, additional documents such as an authorisation from the absent
parent, copies of the parents’ passports, or a divorce certificate must be
shown both at check-in and immigration. These measures are intended to
combat child trafficking, says the department.
But it seems as if the new regulations
have been lost in translation.
“This law is very confusing to us”,
Fabrice Dabouineau, head of Africa travels for the agency Voyageurs du Monde,
told the Mail & Guardian from
“The new regulation was published in
English, using South African administrative references and we are struggling to
find out what documents it refers to in a French context, said Dabouineau.
He said French citizens have two kinds of
birth certificates “and we don’t know which one our clients should carry”.
Dabouineau was uncertain whether his
clients should ask for a certified translation or not, which takes around a
week to obtain in France and can cost up to R700 per page.
“What worries me
most is that when we asked for clarification from the local embassies and
consulates here [in Paris], we hardly got any answer.
Dabouineau said he believed the confusion
was already taking its toll on tourism in South Africa, especially since the
country was seen as “family destination”.
Syndicat National des Agents de Voyages
(Snav), the French national travel agents union, and tour-operator association
Seto, said they had voiced their confusion to the South Africa departments of
home affairs and tourism.
Snav CEO Jean-Marc Rozé said they had explained,
in an email and letter to the departments, sent on March 23, “why
we think these new requirements will prove counterproductive, even if we stand
by the South African government’s side when it comes to fighting child
Rozé said to date,
there has been no response from the South African departments.
A spokesperson from home affairs could
not immediately be reached for comment, and tourism department director general
Victor Tharage said last week there was no record of the correspondence.
Rozé said however they did receive an
email from home affairs informing them about the new regulations, but only on
the day it came into force, June 1.
The French ministry of foreign
affairs suggests that citizens under 18 visiting South Africa need to carry a
birth certificate translated either by a certified authority or issued in
several languages by a local administration.
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