Tourism tragedy looming with new Visa regulations

The countdown has begun. In less than two weeks the new travel regulations for passengers travelling by air with children will come into effect.

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It could cost the tourism sector over R6.8bn in losses and result in severe job cuts. This is according to information released by the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa.

From 1 June 2015 parents have to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children.

In addition, South Africans and foreigners have to provide details of the child’s father and mother. This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children.

When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel.

Unabridged birth certificate applications can take up to eight weeks to complete.

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Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents.

A child denied boarding by an airline ultimately means a family can’t travel and, by industry estimates, until traveller awareness is 100%, tourist arrivals to South Africa could be negatively impacted by up to 20%.

Based on 2013 numbers, 536 000 foreign visitors could be denied travel.

The lost income to South Africa from these high value visitors could be over R6.8bn annually, inevitably leading to job losses in the South African tourism sector.

It is most alarming to read that several travel and tourism websites and online publications are warning travelers about these new regulations. It is without a doubt that this will harm our tourism industry and brand as a country of choice.

South Africa needs to be open for business with the world to grow our tourism economy and create much needed jobs.