D-Day looms for new travel law for kids
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Cape Town - Despite a backlog of 4 000 applications for unabridged birth certificates, the Department of Home Affairs says this backlog was expected to be cleared soon.
Should parents who apply but do not receive their documents by June 1, will receive a letter from the Department of Home Affairs giving them authorisation to travel.
Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said at a parliamentary briefing on Tuesday that the department was ready to implement the new requirements which compels people travelling into or leaving South Africa with children to have unabridged birth certificates.
The new requirement is expected to help curb child trafficking.
It will take effect on Monday albeit concern about the potential impact it could have on the tourism industry.
Apleni said many other countries also required unabridged birth certificates for travel purposes and children born since 2013 were issued with these documents. Thus the requirement only applied to children born before this date.
He said training in terms of the new requirements had been provided to staff.
In a statement, James Vos, the DA’s spokesman for tourism, said the regulations would have “a massive adverse impact” on the already struggling tourism industry.
He said Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom had recently revealed that between 2012 and last year, both domestic tourism numbers and revenue generated have declined.
Domestic tourism numbers dropped from 12.5 million to 9 million, and revenue generated fell from R 21.8-billion to R18.5bn.
“A child denied boarding by an airline ultimately means a family cannot travel and, by industry estimates, until traveller awareness is 100 percent, tourist arrivals to South Africa could be negatively impacted by up to 20 percent. Based on 2013 numbers, 536 000 foreign visitors could be denied travel.”
Vos said that if government failed to heed the concerns of the industry, the country runs the risk of losing international visitor interest in our country.
“If tourism numbers continue to dwindle, the sector will be forced to shed thousands of jobs.”
On Wednesday, the DA Western Cape’s spokeswoman on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, Beverley Schäfer, is expected to lead a picket against the implementation of the unabridged birth certificates requirements for minors.