Speaking to Traveller24 spokesperson for the Department of Tourism Praveen Naidoo stated that Minister Derek Hanekom’s department had requested an extension of the implementation date of this regulation.
Hanekom has apparently pointed out that the matter needs to be addressed urgently since the costs, time and effort expected from visitors in order to meet the requirements can be seen as a barrier to entry, thereby negatively affecting the country’s tourism industry.
Speaking at the Local Government Tourism Conference held in Johannesburg on Monday Hanekom said, “We cannot sweep under the carpet the fact that SA’s current visa regulations are widely seen as a significant obstacle to increasing travel to the country."
He also laid emphasis on the responsibility of the Department of Tourism to identify all possible impediments to the growth of tourism, and do whatever it could to address these obstacles.
“These could be perceptions of crime and measures to ensure the safety of tourists at key tourist sites or precincts. It also means trying to ensure ease of travel to South Africa from our international source markets,” said Hanekom.
Hanekom said that while the department wholeheartedly supports Home Affairs in its mandate to combat human trafficking and child trafficking, he stressed that it needed to be done in a manner that minimised the potential negative impact on tourism.
Many within the tourism industry breathed a sigh of relief when the Department of Home Affairs agreed to delay the implementation of an unabridged birth certificate requirement for children travelling in SA until 1, June 2015.
The department of Home Affairs has since confirmed it is in consultation with various stakeholders on how best to implement South Africa’s new visa rules, which include the need for visitors to apply in person for visas in order to submit biometric data – but as yet it has not responded to requested for details of the process, expected outcome dates or who the members of the panel are that are being consulted.