Earlier this month the Department of Home Affairs published draft amendments to immigration regulations.
However, while the tourism industry had called for the scrapping of the requirement for children under the age of 18 to travel with an unabridged birth certificate, the requirement has not be done away with entirely.
The new draft amendment states: “Where a parent or parents, from a visa-exempt country, who is or are travelling with a child, such parent or parents may be required by an immigration officer to produce the child’s unabridged birth certificate upon admission into or departure from the Republic…” Moreover, an immigration official may refuse a child admission or departure from South Africa if they do not produce the certificate on request.
David Frost, Satsa CEO, has expressed exasperation at the draft amendments. “Once again Home Affairs treats the tourism sector with utter contempt,” he said. “We have exhausted all possible means of reasoned dialogue and persuasion.” According to Frost, one last resort for the industry may be to consider a legal challenge. However, he stresses that this would be a last resort.
During South Africa’s peak season, The Independent newspaper in the UK reported that between 10 and 20 families per day were being denied boarding to South Africa at Heathrow. The requirement has cost South Africa billions in lost tourism revenue according to a report by Grant Thornton.