Provincial officials say the new policy has derailed an Indian tour group’s plans to travel to the country.
CAPE TOWN – Western Cape Economic Development MEC Alan Winde said it has become evident not all South African diplomatic officials stationed abroad understand the new visa regulations.
Provincial officials said the new policy has derailed an Indian tour group’s plans to travel to the country after a child in the group wasn’t granted a visa because of confusion around the unabridged birth certificate requirement.
This is despite the fact that both parents’ details appear on an Indian passport.
Winde said it’s up to Home Affairs to ensure all officials are up to speed with the new rules.
“Home Affairs need to establish that every single one of our embassies and consulates are up to speed, double check that everybody understands what the process is.”
Minors from visa-exempt countries are required to have an unabridged birth certificate when entering the country.
IMPACT ON TOURISM
On Monday, the tourism industry described the new regulations as impractical and an extra burden which will lead to disinvestment.
It affects tourists who want to travel to South Africa as they must now personally visit South African embassies abroad while minors need an unabridged birth certificate.
Single parents will also need to provide affidavits of consent from absent parents when travelling with a child.
The Home Affairs Department’s Mayihlome Tshwete said there have been concerns over unabridged birth certificates, but this has now been resolved.
“We’re able as a government and as home affairs to now read birth certificates that are not translated.”
The South African Tourism Services Association (Satsa), which represents more than 1,000 companies, said it will consult members and decide how to challenge the new regulations.
Satsa’s David Frost said the new regulations mean chaos.
“People in Bulgaria are totally oblivious to this and when they arrive in Frankfurt, South African Airways (SAA) asks them, ‘Where is your birth certificate ‘and they don’t have any. They have a prepaid non-refundable holiday and they’re put on a plane and sent back to Bulgaria.”
He said the tourism industry will suffer severely.
At the same time, some role players in the tourism industry are considering challenging the new visa regulations in the courts.
Frost said, “I think they are making it up as the go along. There is no best practice internationally. We are the only country in the world that is introducing this and you would think if it was such a light bulb moment more sophisticated countries that have been dealing with child trafficking for many years will go down this route. This is actual lunacy.”