The Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, might be one of the last ones to believe that “Ignorance is Bliss”, but his defiance will leave the current inappropriate Visa Rules in force. According to his “genius” South Africa has to expect the new visa rules for children to dent tourism in the first year they apply, but they will not damage the vital sector long-term. So, what are you saying Minister? Just a small price to pay for your over-sized ego? Why paying a price in the first place?
The rules, aimed at preventing child trafficking, require minors to have an unabridged birth certificate with full details of both parents as well as a passport, visa and other documents. They came into force on 1 June and critics argue rightfully that they are hurting tourism, which contributes nearly a tenth of South Africa’s economic output.
“We don’t think we should be so ambitious as not to expect a drop,” Gigaba told reporters during a visit to India. He did not provide numbers, but said the initial dip was not significant … like he would know! “Every country balances its voracious desire for tourists with the desire to secure the country. That is what we are trying to do – to balance the economic and the security imperative,” he added. We ask: And why would you think that in the only country of 198 sovereign states, South Africa had to implement new, untested procedures, just to prove that re-inventing the wheel was not needed?
The minister said further Air China was considering suspending flights to South Africa because of the visa requirements and that Pretoria was working with the Chinese to resolve the issue, but Gigaba said his department “is not going to back down”.
You find us speechless! Did you actually listen – and more doubtful – understand, what Lars Thykier, president of the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association and managing director of the Association of Danish Travel Agents and Tour Operators has actually said (we reported on 9 June)?