Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, has broken his silence on the likely impact of new immigration regulations.
Members of the industry have questioned the National Department of Tourism and Hanekom’s silence concerning the new regulations that were passed as part of the Immigration Amendment Act.
The regulations include the requirement that parents travelling with children to, from and transiting SA, produce an unabridged birth certificate for each child and have been broadly criticised by the trade.
In a media statement issued on Wednesday, Hanekom highlighted this requirement as well as the roll-out of biometric visas as potentially detrimental to tourism.
“The regulation of immigration matters is the constitutional responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs,” said Hanekom. “However, the National Department of Tourism has received representations from tourism stakeholders on the possible unintended consequences of some of the new provisions. Industry role players have highlighted two specific provisions, namely the new requirement for an unabridged birth certificate for minors, as well as the provision for in-person collection of biometric data in tourism source markets. Industry stakeholders argue that these measures may impact on the competitiveness of our destination in an era where countries are attempting to ease visa requirements to promote tourism.”
Hanekom added that any matter that could have a detrimental impact on international tourist arrivals to SA was a concern. He said the intentions behind the regulations reflected the country’s commitment to combat child trafficking but that the prospect of unforeseen and unintended negative consequences must be taken seriously.
“Like many other destinations, we have a dual imperative. We have to combat child trafficking by aligning our approach to global efforts while limiting damage to our competitiveness as a tourism destination.”
“The Department and industry stakeholders are currently studying global best practice for responding to these broader policy challenges and the practicalities of implementing such measures,” said Hanekom. He added that officials from the department were engaging in urgent discussions with their counterparts in the Department of Home Affairs to clarify any misperceptions and to find appropriate solutions where required.
“I will also be meeting with my counterpart, Minister [Malusi] Gigaba, to follow up on these discussions if required,” he said
“I want to assure our trade partners and other industry stakeholders that, as government, we understand the value of travel and tourism, which has grown so impressively over the last few years. We will carefully consider any negative impacts of well-intentioned measures on international tourist arrivals and the attractiveness of our destination.”