South Africa’s new visa requirements are deterring travelers from visiting the country and the government is reviewing them, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said.

Tourist numbers from all countries requiring visas have dropped, Hanekom told reporters in Cape Town on Thursday, without giving figures.

“It would be difficult not to conclude that the visa regulations are having an impact,” he said. “We are worried about it. We cannot sweep it under the carpet.”

More than 9 million tourists visit South Africa each year. The government is targeting annual income of 500 billion rand ($42 billion) from tourism by 2020 and 225,000 new jobs as it seeks to cut a 24 percent unemployment rate.

The Ministry of Home Affairs introduced new travel requirements in May last year with a view to bolstering security and combating child trafficking. The rules include that visitors must apply in person at a visitor center for the documents, which need to be in English. From June, the country will require that all children travel with a birth certificate that gives full details of parents.

Airline operators and tourism companies had warned that the new regulations would deter visitors.

The government needs to ensure a balance between national security and growth in tourism, Hanekom said, referring to a commitment by President Jacob Zuma in February.

–With assistance from Mike Cohen in Cape Town.

 

This article was written by Paul Vecchiatto from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Photo Credit: A beach in Cape Town, South Africa. Nick Gray / Flickr