There’s been mixed reaction to Friday’s announcement that government will scrap some of the onerous requirements on foreign tourists applying for a visa to visit South Africa.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom addressed the media at a Cabinet briefing on Friday morning, to comment on recommendations from the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) tasked with reviewing South Africa’s immigration regulations.
The IMC recommended that:
* Accredited travel agents be able to make visa applications on behalf of clients
* Foreign minors no longer be required to have an unabridged birth certificate in order to travel to and from South Africa
Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy believes the tourism industry can only benefit from the news that cabinet had approved recommendations that travel agents be allowed to make visa applications on behalf of clients and that the birth certificate requirement for travelling minors would no longer include the word “abridged”.
The news that a foreign national would no longer have to make a visa application to travel to South Africa in person and that although South African children would still be required to travel with an unabridged birth certificate, the wording would be changed to read “birth certificate containing parental details” is encouraging, especially since the regulations had presented a challenge to international travel to and from South Africa, Duminy says.
“We welcome this news and wish to thank the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, David Frost of the South African Services Association and the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa for their input. We look forward to the local tourism industry benefiting from these positive developments,” Enver Duminy says.
“This is great news, just the kind of boost to our morale that we need as we enter the holiday season,” says  Enver Mally, chairman of Cape Town Tourism.
“Tourism has a powerful economic impact, and we strongly support the removal of any hurdles that impede ease of travel to not only Cape Town, but South Africa. These recommendations can only bring about positive results for the industry,” according to David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront.
However, the DA is concerned that the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Immigration’s concessions today on visa regulations amounts to nothing more than a band-aid, that will continue to slow down the visa application process and add red-tape.
This will continue to undermine international tourism growth in South Africa that currently boasts revenue losses of R7,5-billion and has worsened unemployment, says James Vos, shadow minister of tourism.
“The DA had urged the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Tourism to act swiftly to scrap these ill-thought out, job killing proposals,” he says. “Instead of acting decisively they have stuttered on a matter that is of extreme importance to the South African economy.
“I will ask that the Portfolio Committee on Tourism summon the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of Tourism, and the Deputy President to account for this effective fudge, which will not provide the hope the millions of unemployed South Africans needed – especially in this difficult economic climate.
“The DA has consistently called for an electronic visa system that will easily facilitate tourists looking to travel to South Africa.”