Did you know that half of South African travellers say the reason they choose to book their holidays through a travel agent is because they want expert advice on visa requirements? This is according to the recently conducted ASATA leisure traveller survey, which was published in The 21st Century Travel Agent.
And who can blame them? Visa requirements are confusing even for the most professionally trained travel consultant.
In the past few months, we’ve seen New Zealand announcing that South Africans would once again need visas. Russia has hinted in the media that visa-free travel might soon be on the cards, leaving travellers wondering if they actually still need to apply for a visa to travel to St Petersburg or Moscow.
Also South African’s own local requirements still have travellers baffled and confused. Do they still need an Unabridged Birth Certificate when travelling with children, or has this been abolished?
They feel they can’t trust the media for accurate information, as so many ‘fake visa’ stories have been doing the rounds. The most recent being a fake news article promising South African travellers that they will be able to travel to the United States without visas.
As trusted travel advisors, it is crucial that ASATA travel agents showcase their value to the consumer on important matters such as visas, helping their clients with accurate and up-to-date information.
“We must look at all the services that a traveller is going to need and deliver an end-to-end solution, including ancillary services such as visa services. Act as a professional business and not bring everything down to cost,” HRG Rennies Travel MD Bronwyn Phillips said in The 21st Century Travel Agent.
Informing travellers that visas may be required is stipulated in the ASATA code of conduct where it is reasonably practical to do so. Although the responsibility of obtaining visas ultimately lies with the client, ASATA travel agents can assist clients by providing them with relevant visa information as well as time frames clients need to keep in mind to obtain their visas in time for travel.