The Portfolio Committee on Tourism said on Thursday that they welcomed the reforms made to visa requirements. File Image IOL

CAPE TOWN - The Portfolio Committee on Tourism said on Thursday that they welcomed the reforms made to visa requirements, which will make travelling to South Africa a lot less complicated.

The committee said that they see tourism is a key player to job creation and boosting the economy.

The travel reforms will include amendments to regulations applying to foreign minors travelling into South Africa, visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements for certain countries.

The committee noted that clarity is required on the implementation of the new amendments for minors travelling in or out of South Africa, as Section 18(3)(c) of the Children’s Act requires the consent of both parents. 

The committee did note that Minister Malusi Gigaba made mention of documentation, but did not clearly indicate what this is or the implications of carrying “such documentation”. 

The committee further added that airlines, inbound tour operators and people travelling with minors need this clarity as people outside of South Africa are, at this time of the year, finalising their travel arrangements for the holiday season.

The tourism portfolio committee calls for clarity, as the Minister mentioned that, “officials will only insist on documentation by exception, for instance, high-risk situations.” 

One of the main issues the committee highlighted was that this may still deter people from travelling to South Africa if clarity is not provided on what these conditions entail.

What was also welcomed, was the waiver of visas to 15 of the Southern African Development Community countries, with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The Chairperson of the portfolio committee, Lusizo Makhubele-Mashele, urged to Home Affairs to speedily conclude negotiations to finalise visa waiver agreements for ordinary passport holders, as indicated by Gigaba.

The introduction of the e-Visa in New Zealand next year will be closely monitored by the Tourism committee, as it is hoped that this system will be replicated in other countries making travel to South Africa seamless and uncomplicated. 

Makhubele-Mashele said: “We need to use technology to improve efficiencies at airports and other points of entry into our country and to improve traveller experience overall. Once a tourist is frustrated at the point of entry then that has the potential to spoil the entire tourist experience. We, therefore, welcome the amendments and new developments Home Affairs is putting in place and call on the Department of Tourism to work closely with Home Affairs.”  The Department of Home Affairs is urged to make its implementation plan public so that all people are aware of the changes.