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Gigaba’s rules have really hurt my business

Families lose money, dream holidays turn into nightmares, tourists are going elsewhere.

More than 30 of his clients have been off-loaded at various airports around the world due to South Africa’s much-criticised travel restrictions. He has also personally paid thousands of rands to compensate clients for damages suffered as a result, tour and safari operator Holger Jensen of Jensen Safaris has told Moneyweb.

This has had a devastating effect on his 38-year-old business and has left South Africa’s reputation as a tourist destination in tatters, he says.

Jensen was responding to home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba’s recent failure to scrap the controversial documentation requirements for foreigners travelling with an under-age child. South African authorities require an unabridged birth certificate for the child, as well as a letter of consent from both parents.

If airlines allow passengers who do not comply to board flights to South Africa, they get huge fines and must pay for the return fare of the passengers.

Thousands off-loaded, millions lost

As a result, airlines are very strict, and thousands of families have been off-loaded with their dreams of an unforgettable holiday in South Africa shattered.

Gigaba recently failed to scrap the requirement, despite it being part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus package.

The tourism industry responded with disappointment.

Jensen facilitates tours and safaris for more than 1 000 tourists a year and focuses on the premium Scandinavian market, especially Denmark. He has, however, dealt with clients from 64 countries in the last 38 years, he says.

About 50% of his business serves family groups, which means the visa restrictions on minors have had a huge impact on him, Jensen says.

Immediately after the regulations were implemented three years ago, he put a comprehensive explanation on his website. Bookings are however often made through employers or retail agents overseas who fail to communicate the travel instructions, he says.

Last year a family with four children had to delay their departure due to the failure of the employer who made the booking to inform them of the travel requirements. They had to pay R16 000 each for new air tickets Jensen says.

He says in Denmark all birth certificates are issued by the state church or ‘Folkekirken’, whether you’re a member or not. “At Danish airports, this was acknowledged without problems.”

One Danish family with three under-age children, however, decided to depart from Hamburg, utilising cheaper flights. They had the same paperwork as the other Danish clients, but were refused boarding at Emirates check-in because the birth certificates of their children were not considered ‘Unabridged birth certificates’, says Jensen. This even though they had been duly translated to English.

Germany does not have a state church, and considered the certificates to be invalid official documents, he says. “I had to purchase five new air tickets at my expense – R43 000 – and send them to a local judge’s office the following morning to have the birth certificates stamped with an official stamp. I immediately amended my instructions, and since then each and every birth certificate has had to be certified and stamped – either at a judge’s office at a cost of R3 350 per family or at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a cost of R2 950 per family.”

This delayed the departure by several days, and in terms of Danish consumer law, he also had to compensate them for the days lost.

“Can you imagine what this has done to my business?”

Tourists are opting for Kenya instead

Jensen says families who want a bush experience avoid the risk of being off-loaded and rather go to Kenya, which is a much shorter flight and competes very well on price. If they want a beach holiday, they prefer Thailand.

He says it is impossible to know how many tourists the country has lost over the past three years due to the visa restrictions.

“Last month I had a lady from Japan, and I ensured that she had a full understanding of the rules relating to travelling with her child of 14, but unknown to me, she had not had contact with her former husband and father of the child for the past seven years. She subsequently phoned SAA in Tokyo for advice, and was told that it would be no problem, as long as all the other paperwork was at hand.

“That was not correct, and subsequently they were off-loaded, two airplane tickets plus R56 750 out of pocket, which they had prepaid for ground arrangements in South Africa.”

Her dream holiday with her child – including a visit to Victoria Falls, interaction with elephants and much more – was cancelled.

“Needless to say, I was terribly embarrassed and sad for her, but I had supplied the correct info from my side,” Jensen says.

“These things happened every day around the globe – greatly inconveniencing international airlines and adding extra time to check-in procedures for family travel,” Jensen says.

In the past week he was on standby, he says, holding his breath that another family, a lawyer from London with his Peruvian wife and child coming to SA, would be allowed to travel. “She has also not had contact with her former husband, for nine years, but does carry a stamp in her passport that her son can travel with her unaccompanied by her husband.”

Jensen says he has tried to get clarification from the SA Embassy in London – “We can only assist South Africans” – and the SA Tourism office in London (no reply!).

“I was hoping that this last announcement would put the family at ease and make their dream holiday possible.”

Fortunately, this family arrived without incident.

Jensen, along with the rest of the tourism industry, is waiting to see the exact wording of the amended visa regulations when they are published in the Government Gazette – hopefully this month.

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Typical government snafu. Have you noticed how pervasive this sort of thing is become? There is developing a total failure of all government entities. I wonder where this will lead us.


So what is your solution?

One that may work.

The only real solution is for the DA to step into Government and clear out the bulk of the ANC cadres who are either ridiculously incompetent or corrupt. There are a few good ones but not enough to stem the tide.

The EFF would turn SA into Zim/Venezuela overnight.

Unfortunately, the populist approach and race baiting means the DA will never govern SA.

The things that Mashaba is doing in JHB seem very promising and I have noticed an improvement in service delivery already. Crazy to think that people ignore that solely because of race.

That is why the Western Cape must institute processes to leave RSA. i.e. cession.

Indeed other thinking sane provinces too.

SA is already on the toilet. Cession will help a wide variety of citizens, not just those who have the money and educational qualifications to emigrate. Why waste time and money trying to change the whole RSA when clearly they lack the cognitive abilities to understand even the most basic principles of civilisation and governance.

….will lead us to Azania??

@ pacaratac

The problem with secession (beyond that this will be very hard to get the ANC to agree to) is that it WILL be a success (certainly compared to the rest of SA) in the long run. This means it will become more and more attractive for economic refugees to move to the seceded areas. You will not be able to stop them as this will be “racist”. When enough of them have arrived, they will vote in the ANC.

We will build a wall ( the greatest, biggest ever seen in the history of mankind) and the free state will pay for it.

A huge amount of damage has been done to both the inbound and outbound tourist industry by the idiotic rules imposed by none other than Malusi Gagupta. Some hotels and B & B’s have closed for business and others just lost huge revenue by the rules that only South Africa has. Perhaps he thinks that his stupidity of invoking such rules will take the focus off his other misfiling. I don’t know. What I do predict is that he will not survive as a minister beyond the next elections or cabinet reshuffle.

Another repercussion for SA, is that the owner in our report (from Jensen Safaris) could likely see the opportunity in Kenya, and open a branch of his business there / or relocate his entire operation.

It will be a loss to SA employees / A loss to supplier industries….but then again, a gain in Kenya. Biggest will be the loss of Revenue to SARS.

Come to think of it, perhaps SA Govt does not need such taxable revenue?

Malusi Gigaba is the product of a system. He is the typical product of a collectivist regime. Politicians find it hard to motivate intelligent people, who can make up their own minds, to support a single cause. The group that is easy to mobilize into the largest group with a common purpose, is the group of people of lesser ability, who are unable to think independently. Since it is virtually impossible for unintelligent people to make intelligent choices, they will elect the worst among them as leaders.

If you live in a country where this group forms the majority, you will be ruled by the scum of society.

“Yet while there is little that is likely to induce men who are good by our standards to aspire to leading positions in the [collectivist] machine, and much to deter them, there will be special opportunities for the ruthless and unscrupulous. There will be jobs to be done about the badness of which taken by themselves nobody has any doubt, but which have to be done in the service of some higher end, and which have to be executed with the same expertness and efficiency as any others. And as there will be need for actions which are bad in themselves, and which all those still influenced by traditional morals will be reluctant to perform, the readiness to do bad things becomes a path to promotion and power. The positions in a [collectivist] society in which it is necessary to practice cruelty and intimidation, deliberate deception and spying, are numerous.” August von Hayek 1944

Is there no process whereby a private organisation can approach the courts to check/test whether Gigaba is insane or not?

I like your approach. At the same time we could list a large number of Ministers, deputy Ministers and ANC MPs’ for the ‘sanity test”. Then, as they fail, the ANC can deploy them in other SOEs.

I think the standard test in which the candidate is required to place differently shaped pieces of cardboard into matching apertures would be more appropriate, if perhaps rather more challenging.

Just give him a page of dictation.

just a plain IQ test , any of them to reach a double digit…well…evolution.

It’s so obvious, SAA making money by fining other airlines. SAA think this is profitable but in reality the whole country is suffering a multiplier loss. Can’t someone just say it like it is. We should scrap this stupid, corrupt rule and fire the —– who brought it in. SA needs to take ownership of it’s own future and not leave it to corrupt officials with short term view in mind.

Really boggles the mind. Take a problem – any problem – and list 20 possible solutions, ranging from effective to catastrophic. Time after time, every single ANC cadre out there will choose Option MostSilly.

How do we put a square peg into a round hole? “We tell the round hole that it should stop being such a one-sided individual, accept socialism and say three hail marys, then paint the big elephant in the room orange”….

Thanks Malusi. Well, actually, thanks cabinet.

The fact that Gigaba is still a minister is an insult to all.

Even though I am no traveller, the unabridged certificate requiring a father to consent that he indeed he is a father, has been one rule I find favouring happily married people. Being a single mother of two with a irresponsible father, I find this new law undermining the father’s constitutional right to privacy as I now have to beg him to right letters and own up to him being a father. I am no fighting type so I can’t expose myself to neglect, insults and abuse when one does not want to father. This is just a sign that only God is for the people, politicians are concerned about certain individuals and have forgotten about the people they serving. Killing the economy like this is suicide, when we are all poor we will beg apartheid to come back.

And just yesterday Hanekom the turncoat, has waxing away about the national parks being the jewel of our tourism and had to be looked after to promote tourism.

classic ANC move, left hand not knowing what the right is up to.

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