The travel industry is traditionally reluctant to discuss the impact of tragic events on business, but forward bookings are believed to be running at around 20 percent below expected levels.

Johannesburg - The backlash on South Africa’s new visa regulations has forced the Brics think-tank to propose a new visa regime for South Africans travelling to Brics countries.

This new visa regime, in the form of a Brics card that would be issued to certain travellers initially, would prevent South Africans who are travelling to other Brics countries from being subjected to those countries’ tough visa regulations.

The proposal was that the Brics card would first consider businessmen and businesswomen being exempted from tough visa regulations in countries like China and Russia. Later, this would be extended to academics and researchers from South Africa when they visit Brics countries.

The proposal was mooted by the Brics think-tank following a backlash after South Africa introduced tough new visa regulations last month. The think-tank advises Brics on key policy, research and development issues.

The head of the Brics research centre, Jaya Josie, told journalists this week that the proposal had been discussed, but there was nothing concrete on the table.

China and Russia are said to have retaliated against South Africa’s new visa regulations by introducing their own stringent regulations on South Africans.

 

One Human Sciences Research Council official, who is due to travel to China in September for a conference, said that country had demanded tough new visa requirements that would make it difficult to travel to Beijing.

Josie said they hoped the proposed new Brics card would be accepted by the Brics bloc and put an end to the problem posed by the stringent visa regulations.

If the tough regulations remained in place, it would be difficult for South African businesspeople, academics and researchers to travel to China and Russia.

The South African government had been under pressure to review its new visa regulations.

The DA said on Thursday that the new regulations had led to 1 000 job losses in the tourism sector.

DA MP James Vos said: “A meeting I had with industry stakeholders… has revealed that the number of tourists to South Africa has decreased as a direct result of the recently introduced visa regulations.”

He said he would write to Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on the economic impact of the visa regulations on tourism.

The Star