16 Tue, Sep 2014
Tourism to South Africa from China has dropped significantly and tour operators are reporting travel cancellations from October onwards. According to members of the inbound tourism trade, this can be put down to the new immigration regulations.
CEO of Private Safaris, Frank Glettenberg, told Tourism Update travel from China had been down 80% since the Ebola outbreak and the announcement that visa applications would have to be made in person.
“Feedback from our agents in China is that they have effectively stopped promoting South Africa from travel date October 1 onwards. They also state that should a client actively request South Africa, they advise on the new regulations.”
While the Department of Home Affairs has suggested that the requirement for people to apply for visas in person is already in place, an investigation by Tourism Update showed that this was not the case Minister of Home Affairs,Malusi Gigaba, has conceded that there are “challenges” and has called on missions abroad to start implementing the requirement.
According to Glettenberg, foreign independent travellers are still making bookings but these are mainly travellers from the Beijing and Shanghai areas. As the South African missions are located in these two cities, it is easier for those travellers to file visa applications.
Tour operators are concerned with the logistics involved in making bookings to SA. Business Development Executive of Your Africa, Nirvani Pillay, says: “We have been advised that the visa requirements are now restrictions and that alternative destinations are considered where visas are not as huge an issue.”