South Africa’s tourism industry would need six to 12 months to recover its growth trajectory even if the government immediately scrapped new visa requirements blamed for a drop in international arrivals, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The number of international visitors to the country dropped by 11% between May and August after the government introduced the new measures, according to the council. Tourism was forecast to grow by 4% in the period.

“Our data show that the new visa requirements are the primary cause for the drop,” David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the council, said by phone on Wednesday. “If you add the fact that the South African tourism sector was forecast to grow 4% annually, it means it is now facing an effective 15% decline.”

The new measures include a stipulation that children entering South Africa must be accompanied by an adult in possession of a birth certificate that names both parents, and a requirement that prospective travelers attend a South African consulate to capture biometric data before departure.

“What we want is for biometric data to be captured at the airports on a person’s arrival, as practiced by Australia and the U.S., and the scrapping of the birth-certificate requirement entirely,” Scowsill said.

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