The new visa regulations implemented on 1 October are already having devastating implications for tourist arrivals in South Africa.
Tourist arrivals from fellow BRICS countries in particular have been hit extremely hard.
Reports suggest that new tourist arrivals from China and India are down by 80 – 90% since 1 October.
A number of South African tour operators have indicated that they have experienced significant reductions in tourist arrivals:
– Private Safaris and SA Magic Tours – both indicating that agents in China had stopped promoting travel to South Africa from 1 October onwards.
– Africa Star Travel – stated that last year during this time they were working on many bookings for November, December, January and up until August for the year ahead. This year they have literally nothing for the New Year.
– Quantum Travels – stated that the Indian business has been decimated with many agents in India diverting tourists to other destinations with friendlier visa policies.
It added that SA has a very negative image around visas because of the “disastrous handling” of the issue by the Department of Home Affairs.
It is becoming clear that the new regulations are discouraging tourists from coming to South Africa.
In China, there are only 3 locations to get a South African visa.
In India, there are only 2 locations to find a visa.
These are huge countries, where it will be impossible for millions of people to get South African visas in person.
The decrease in tourist arrivals will inevitably have enormous consequences for the tourism sector in South Africa.
There is a real risk that we could lose jobs if these regulations are not changed.
South Africa needs to be open for business with the world to create the jobs our people need.