SA tourism chiefs welcome u-turn on child visa regulations
South Africa has taken steps to boost the declining number of tourists visiting the country – by becoming more user friendly with its own visa regulations.
In particular, the new regulations pertaining to child visas have been blamed within the industry for the few numbers visiting. The child regulations meant that a parent or guardian with a child had to prove their status by way of what is termed 'an unabridged' birth certificate. On top of that an adult arriving alone with an offspring had to then show they were travelling with the consent of their absent partner.
While designed to prevent child trafficking, the rules had the effect of turning people off travelling at all to South Africa, drawing severe criticism from tourist industries both inside and outside the country.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the implementation of the regulations led to the lowest confidence level within the tourism authorities since 2010. This arose over the fall in numbers, expected to directly result in 100,000 visitors shunning the country this year at an estimated cost of £66 million to the exchequer.
Accepting the adverse situation, the SA Department of Tourism has introduced a number of concessions to the regulations. Chief of these will see travellers with children’s details printed in their offspring’s passports, eschewing the need to carry birth certificates.
They also have agreed to get rid of a mandatory consent form from a non-travelling partner though they say it is advisable to still do so.
In a greater review of its policies, the SA government is to re-examine rules which makes it mandatory for visitors to make visa applications before travelling at a South African mission – making it almost impossible for would-be tourists in countries like China, India and Russia to apply for entry.
They will now seek to extend accepting application through the post from countries which don’t have such links.