The Tourism Business Council of South Africa and the Association of Southern African Travel Agents have attacked the government’s failure to compromise over the issue of unabridged birth certificate requirements for families travelling with children, and for foreign nationals needing visas to enter South Africa to apply in person at a South African consulate.
This followed the outcome of the Tourism Ministry’s first meeting on the matter with Home Affairs chief, Malusi Gigaba, which took place at the end of July.
The new requirement for unabridged birth certificates is due to be implemented on October 1. Industry bodies all maintain that the new measures will damage inbound and outbound tourism.
ASATA Chief Executive Officer, Otto de Vries, also said the association’s requests to meet Minister Gigaba had gone unanswered. ASATA maintains that Home Affairs is in any case unable to meet its own turnaround times for processing, which are four to six weeks but which the association claims are more like four to six months.
However, Home Affairs’ spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete responded that, while a meeting had not yet been scheduled, "it doesn’t mean that this is something the Minister is unwilling to engage them on.
"We have invited constructive criticism and have tried to open ourselves to a number of stakeholders... We are willing to have discussions with people who have data to back up whatever views they have but I don’t think we should be having a speculative discussion... whether or not human trafficking is happening. What is also not in question is whether we have seen a lot of fraud around our [immigration] documentation.
"We have had similar discussions with the Department of Tourism, which raised a number of concerns. We are trying to address those and do appreciate the need for tourism. This is definitely not an attempt to hinder [the industry] but, once again, we should not say there will be losses when that is still speculative and without any scientific assessment.”