Posted on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 10:28

South Africa revises tough visa regulations

By Crystal Orderson in Cape Town

File photo©ReutersSouth Africa is reviewing its new stringent visa regulations after complaints that they had crippled the tourism sector, President Jacob Zuma has said.

Zuma said an inter-ministerial team led by his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa would lead the review the travel regulations, which saw the introduction of biometric visas and parents being forced to carry with them unabridged copies of birth certificates for their children.

We have noted with concern the complaints about the new visa regulations

Zuma described the problems caused by the new visa regulations as 'unintended consequences".

"We have noted with concern the complaints about the new visa regulations," the president told journalists in Pretoria.

Zuma was speaking on progress his government had made in areas relating to economic growth and job creation since his state-of-the-nation address in February.

"The ministerial committee will address the unintended consequences of the new immigration regulations on various sectors, including tourism and investment," he said.

South Africa's tourism industry contributes nine percent of the country's gross domestic product and employs around 1.5 million people.

But tourism officials said the new draconian style visa regulations would drive tourist arrivals down.

The new regulations introduced by Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba require tourists to apply in person at a visitor centre for travel documents, which need to be in English, and that all children must have a birth certificate with full details of both parents.

The Democratic Alliance's James Vos had earlier announced that committee had been "set up by Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba‚ to consider objections to the controversial new visa regulations his department instituted".

Recent studies showed that South Africa lost R886-million of tourism spend in 2014 and is set to forgo a further R1.4-billion this year, according to an impact assessment study published in July.

Grant Thornton Advisory Services says R1.6-billion has already been lost in the first quarter.

Tourism minister Derek Hanekom also broke ranks and has expressed reservations on the visa rules.

Ramaphosa is set to address Parliament and give further details on the work of the inter-ministerial committee.

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