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Dear Ramaphosa, please scrap Gigaba’s visa regulation now!

Tourism industry hits back on visa regulations.

The tourism industry is fed-up with insults from Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and his Deputy Fatima Chohan and has called on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to immediately scrap the “irrational” and “draconian” new visa regulations.

Several industry bodies under the umbrella of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) held a media briefing in Fourways outside Johannesburg on Thursday, in response to utterances by Gigaba and Chohan, criticising the industry’s opposition to the new regulations.

CEO of the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) David Frost said at the briefing that growth in tourism numbers stopped abruptly in June 2014, especially from BRIC countries, when in-person visa application requirements came into effect.

He said from September to December last year the number of visitors from Brazil declined by 37%, from China by 46.9% and from India by 14.4%. This trend continued in 2015.

StatsSA reported a 13% year-on-year decline in overseas arrivals in June, he said. The Reserve Bank states preliminary estimations have suggested that the level of gross travel receipts declined by 9% in the second quarter of 2015.

Gigaba reportedly said on Sunday that opposition to the visa regulations were based on “lies and cooked-up figures and surveys with no credibility whatsoever”. He also repeated this on Twitter and said the tourism sector was not marketing the country correctly.

 

 

 

Chohan allegedly referred to the “whinging and whining” of the industry and said she did not expect wholesale changes to the regulations.

Frost said she made this statement despite the fact that an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by Ramaphosa and set up by President Jacob Zuma to deal with the unintended consequences of the regulations, has not yet announced its findings.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said on Thursday that the findings will only be made public after Zuma has reported back to cabinet.

Frost said the tourism industry has had no input into the workings of the committee, but has supplied relevant data to the Department of Tourism in support of the industry’s position.

He said the industry has tried to engage the Department of Home Affairs on the matter, but without any success. Two highly credible reports by consultancy group Grant Thornton – the first containing a forecast about the possible impact and the second about the real impact as it unfolds – were rejected outright by the department, he said.

Frost said South Africa is the only country in the world that demands an unabridged birth certificate from children and that there are more effective ways to combat child trafficking.

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) has reported a 44% drop in the number of children travelling to and from the country in June, July and August this year, compared with the corresponding period last year.

The in-person application requirement should be replaced by biometrics on arrival, as is done in Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal and Abu Dhabi, Frost said.

According to Frost, the requirements are impractical and Home Affairs cannot even implement them. The process requires prospective tourists from countries such as Columbia and Estonia, where there are no South African consulates, to travel to other countries to apply for visas.

Source markets from India, China and Russia are also severely affected, he said. Prospective travellers have to travel to visa centres. In China, for example, there are only such centres in Beijing and Shanghai. 

Lorna Lloyd of the Jewellery Council Of South Africa, said jewellers who deal specifically with tourists from China have been severely impacted. She said one diamond company has seen a significant drop in visits from approximately 100 Chinese groups per month to between 20 and 25. Another, which has been in business for 35 years and mainly deals with Chinese visitors may have to close its doors, which will also impact at least 15 suppliers.

Frost said travel agents in China have taken South Africa as a destination out of their brochures, which is the equivalent of taking a product off the shelf. He said it took 15 years to build this market and even if the regulations are scrapped immediately, it won’t be easy to reverse.

The current crisis in the tourism industry does not require a financial bailout from government, Frost said. It won’t cost a cent to scrap the regulations. By a stroke of a pen, government can allow the industry to capitalise on the weak rand and attract a large number of foreign tourists back to South Africa.

The impact of new visa regulations in numbers:

June 2015 overseas arrivals per source market vs June 2014 (-13% to 113 689 from 130 410):
Country % change June 2015 June 2014
US -9% 26 503 29 269
UK -8% 17 897 19 371
Australia -11% 7 682 8 654
Germany -12% 6 983 7 927
India -25% 6 577 8 785
France 1% 5 122 5 064
Netherlands -3.50% 4 256 4 411
China -28% 4 167 5 823

Source: StatsSA

 

Competitors June 2015 per source market vs June 2014:
Australia (+7%) Thailand (+54%) Mauritius (+8%)
Country % change Country % change Country % change
US 19.60% UK 9% UK 12%
UK 4.70% US 30% Germany 3.50%
Germany 12% Germany 6.50% India +17,5%
India 5% India 23% China 60%
China 21% China 187%    
Mauritius (+8%)        
UK 12%        
Germany 3.50%        
India 17.50%        
China 60%        
Source: Tourism Australia Source: Ministry of Tourism and Sport Thailand Source: Government of Mauritius
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I don’t know what the long term pros and cons are, but i do know it is easy enough to check the impact of the regs.
it sounds like mr egg on his face doubting thomas Gigaba needs to do a little sortie and go and speak to restaurants, tour companies, hotels etc
I suggest he starts with the small packaging company in sea point that supplies to restaurants – his clients say turnover down 20% from same time last few years and they attribute this to less tourists

Never thought they could actually mess up tourism. Every thing is there the Game parks, the Cape, the Karroo, the Highveld, all just needing to be seen. Like opening a cinema and then putting a 2 to 21 age restriction on it plus a whole lot of other conditions. So if you are 75, only 1.2 metres high weigh 35kg and have a stutter you may watch the movie. If you don’t qualify go else where. Child trafficking who’s socks is he smoking.

We have to get used to them. This is how they operate. Things get broken all the time by them. There is incompetence on a level that we will continue to find hard to accept because it is so unneccessary and so damaging for all South Africans. I can understand them wanting to upset anything that the previously advantaged group do well. They will want to (and do that all the time) cause pain loss and hardship no matter that it breaks business and destroys jobs. I suppose it is there form of revenge. So we better get used to it. What is the next thing they are planning to break? Possibly close Cape Town Airport, Cape Town Harbour … railways is broken, eskom is broken, the post office is broken, there is no more policing in fact the police are probably the forst on the scene because they are committing the crime, hospitals closed, schools closed, mines closed, jobs going, flying SAA is a risk and so it goes here in SA. There is a definite tendency for them to literally break everything they touch.

Just imagine Gigaba rising to president! It would make mad Bob look totally sane in comparison. Why oh why can’t these ANC ministers just admit their mistakes? They would be held in higher regard if they did. If one never admits to making a mistake, one is likely to repeat it. The tweets from Gigaba sound like they come from a petulant schoolboy. And Twitter is not the right medium for a minister to be making comments. Take away his smartphone!

Don’t you just love that first tweet, where Malusi says they never said the numbers wouldn’t drop, they expected the numbers to drop as tourists comply and familiarize themselves with the regulations.

In a very apt way, that kind of sums up this whole debacle.
That’s like saying I took a gun and shot myself in the foot knowing that it would hurt a bit…
The excruciating pain, loss of blood and near death experience that followed are factors I was naive to…

In essence what he is saying is that, yes, they expected the numbers to decline.
The ripple effect that has on the broader economy, businesses and tourist sentiment towards the country are all things they were naive to, it’s all a nasty surprise…
So the finger-pointing blame game commences.

Something has to give at some point.
If it’s pride at stake here, then someone has to swallow theirs, and admit they were wrong.
Anywhere else in the world, and that person would have to resign, but because this is South Africa, we don’t even expect an apology, just undo this mess please.

Excellent article! The facts speak for themselves but the idiots at Home Affairs in their arrogance would rather see the country fail than admit to a white man that they have made a colossal mistake.

Talk about using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. Yet another irrational and thoughtless policy of the government that serves nobody’s interests. What an embarrassment.

The visa regulations need serious review. Business, investment and tourism (external and internal) are suffering. Is anyone listening?

That Gigiba chap dispalys world class, best ever, levels of ignorance, inexperience & stupidty. My grandson could do a better job at age 7.

Proudly brought to you by the ANC. Ha-ha. Clueless lot

End of comments.

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