The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has welcomed the news that unabridged birth certificates or letters of consent are no longer required when foreign minors are traveling to South Africa with their parents.
Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsolaedi signed the waiver on Friday and it takes effect immediately.
South African children are, however, still required to provide supporting documents, in line with the requirements of the Children’s Act. The same applies to unaccompanied foreign children.
The Council’s CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa says the tourism industry has suffered a lot in the past four years as a result of this stringent requirement.
“There were many people that were either turned away from the airport. There were some numbers that (we) looked at. Some suggested that about 13 000 people, who were turned away from the airport and there were also people that just never considered us, because if I’m traveling with a family, I want to come to SA and there are ‘athletes’ rules, I’d rather go somewhere else, where there aren’t stringent rules. We think that the number is quite larger than what I quoted, simply because there were people that just wrote us off. They never even looked at us.”
Tshivhengwa says South Africa will now go back to its former glory of being a holiday destination of choice. He says it will also enable the tourism industry to flourish again.
“It took way too long. The numbers dipped in the process, but it comes as a relief now, to say now we’re back on the map and we certainly hope that other regulations that are hindering tourism, like issues around the national transport regulator must be looked at to unlock the potential for tourists. We said that we want 21 million tourists by 2030. This will go a long way in ensuring we achieve those numbers and also we get the value from the tourists that are coming into the country.”
Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says the decision to abolish the regulation was reached after much outcry from the tourism industry. He says the regulations also resulted in many job losses.
“We heard from the Tourism Council and the toursim industry that these requirements brought down tourism. It affected it negatively, we hear so. And listening to them, a debate ensued and we reached a conclusion that perhaps we must revoke that decision and reverse it because of listening to the tourism industry, when they were complaining that indeed this requirement has brought tourism down in SA. It is not in the best interest of the country for tourism to be down, for a simple reason that tourism is one of the industries that easily creates jobs for lesser amount than others.”
Tourism SA has also welcomed the decision following its recent roadshows to UK, Central Europe and North America, where they received feedback that South Africa was starting to lose ground on the family travel market due to the regulations.