JOHANNESBURG – The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) welcomes the recommendations made today by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) instituting biometric visas on arrival for travellers from countries where there is no South Africa mission and amending the requirements around Unabridged Birth Certificates (UBCs) for inbound travellers under the age of 18 years.
The IMC was appointed in August 2015 to assess the “unintended consequences” that have arisen as a result of the implementation of new Immigration Regulations by the Department of Home Affairs, but no engagement with the travel community has taken place as part of their discussions, which are aimed at finding a “rational and implementable” method of bringing about a balance that does not sacrifice South Africa’s security, but that also deals with the “negative economic impact” that has arisen as a result.
Tourism arrival statistics from most of South Africa’s key source markets have reported significant declines since the new Immigration Regulations came into effect, with losses estimated to the South African economy estimated to be over R7.5bn.
While the IMC’s decision is very positive for the inbound tourism industry, South Africa’s outbound travel community will continue to be impacted by the requirement to present UBCs. “The decision shows that our relentless collective efforts have had a positive impact and that government has listened,” says Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA.
“It is disappointing however that travelling South African families will continue to be subjected to the UBC requirement even though it is clear that we are experiencing ongoing challenges with the timeous issuing of these.
“Child trafficking is a global issue and we do not believe in the effectiveness of this particular policy requirement to deliver on its intention to curb trafficking in South Africa.”
To read the full recommendations made by the IMC, click here: http://bit.ly/1kz7VTB