South Africa’s tightening of visa rules to combat child trafficking may also deter foreign visitors, industry groups have told Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
The restrictions, proposed by the Home Affairs Ministry and due to come into effect at the end of September, will require parents and guardians traveling with minor children to be in possession of their unabridged birth certificates. Visitors will also have to report in person to visa offices to provide biometric data.
“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,” Hanekom said in an e-mailed statement. “Any matter that could have a detrimental impact on international tourist arrivals to South Africa is a concern.”
More than 9 million tourists visit South Africa each year. The government is targeting annual income of 500 billion rand ($47 billion) from tourism by 2020 and 225,000 new jobs as it seeks to cut a 25 percent unemployment rate.
Tourism department officials are working with their counterparts at home affairs to clarify any misunderstanding about the new rules and resolve any problems that may arise, Hanekom said.