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New South African Visa Regulations Postponed

Tuesday 16 September 2014. The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) has announced that Minister Gigaba has agreed to postpone the new South African Visa birth certificate regulations for travelling with children from 1 October 2014 to June 2015.

SATSA’s CEO, Mr David Frost said that in addition, the Minister of Home Affairs is establishing a task team to review the whole question of the proposed regulations – both birth certificate and in-person applications / biometric data capturing.

“This is a small but significant win for us as the private sector of tourism in South Africa. This morning, both Minister Gigaba and I were interviewed on the matter by Radio 702,” said Frost.

If you’d like to hear the podcast, click on this url: http://www.702.co.za/articles/116

SATSA in collaboration with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has been attempting to resolve this issue over the last three weeks. The TBCSA had unsuccessfully tried to get a meeting with Minister Gigaba as far back as 01 July, yet Minister Gigaba is quoted as saying that no-one from the tourism industry had been in contact with him. Moreover other parties, notably a Western Cape delegation, had managed to meet with him.

“I took the bull by the horns and made direct contact with the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan, with whom I had a very positive interaction over the visa capacity issues in India earlier this year. She responded almost immediately and I, together with Otto De Vries, the CEO of the Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA), June Crawford, the CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA) and the CEO of the TBCSA Mmatšatši Ramawela, met with her and her team on Thursday, 04 September. We were able to forward her a copy of a report that we, as the TBCSA, commissioned from Grant Thornton on the impact (to the South African inbound travel trade) of these new regulations.

“This interaction was followed by a further meeting last Friday between the TBCSA and Minister Gigaba (now back from his honeymoon!). The upshot of these dialogues are the announcement this morning of the date postponement and the task team formation,” said Frost.

“I am also extremely grateful for the key role played by our Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom, in the process. Our industry, as I have said on many occasions, is in the best possible hands and he is someone who, when the whistle blows, I will follow over the top without hesitation.

“It will be incumbent on us to play a leading role in the task team. I would like to thank ATSA members who have sent through data on the losses suffered as a result of the visa issue as well as the Ebola virus issue. This data will form a significant part of our case to look at more tourism-sensitive ways to take care of the safety concerns that remain real for Home Affairs,” concluded Frost.