Expect visa chaos, warns Asata
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Cape Town - The chief executive of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata) has warned that the travel and tourism industry is expecting chaos from next week when new requirements for travelling to or from South African with minors come into effect.
From Monday, parents will be required to carry unabridged birth certificates for their children when travelling into or out of the country, in addition to their passports.
Asata chief executive Otto de Vries said tourism was a very competitive industry and, while many governments around the world were taking steps to simplify procedures and encourage travel and tourism, South Africa was doing the opposite.
He said the country could see a downturn in family bookings as a consequence of the new requirements.
According to a statement released on Wednesday, Asata, the Southern African Tourism Services Association and the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa had continuously tried to engage, through various means, with the Department of Home Affairs on the implementation of the new regulations concerning unabridged birth certificate requirements and the necessity for inbound tourists to avail themselves of biometric visas.
It said their calls had fallen on deaf ears.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said his department was ready to implement the regulations and stated that there were other countries in the world with the same requirements.
He said child trafficking was a reality.
Apleni said parents, who regard the requirement as a burden, should consider what would happen if their child left the country without their consent.
He said that by Monday there had been a backlog of 4 000 applications for unabridged birth certificates, but this would be cleared soon.
Meanwhile, a DA picket outside Parliament against the implementation of the unabridged birth certificates requirements was halted almost as soon as it started on Wednesday.
Beverley Schäfer, the DA’s Western Cape spokeswoman on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, said while permission was not usually needed for silent pickets, police officials had warned DA supporters to move or face arrest. “We believe it’s just a political ploy.”
She said the impact of the new regulations “was huge” and there were already three pieces of legislation that talks directly to human trafficking.
Schäfer said the regulations needed to be scrapped.