THE new visa regulations and the requirement that children should have unabridged birth certificates when travelling is undoing two decades of marketing South Africa as a tourist destination, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“We have already seen a drop in tourist numbers and worse is to come,” said Ms Janine Myburgh, President of the Chamber.
She pointed out that a recent poll conducted by the Daily Telegraph in England revealed that 61 % of British tourists said the new birth certificate requirements for their children would put them off visiting South Africa.
“The UK is one of our biggest markets and we simply cannot afford to put visitors off with these bureaucratic requirements that no other country finds necessary,” she said.
China, one of the biggest growth markets, has already cancelled plans for a direct flight to South Africa and gave the visa regulations as one of the main reasons for the decision. The number of Chinese visitors has already dropped by about 25 %. This is a market that was growing by 15 % a year before the Department of Home Affairs introduced the new regulations.
She said airline industry experts estimated that the new regulations would cost the tourism sector R6.8 billion a year and thousands of jobs.
“This is going to hurt us in the Western Cape where most of the country’s main tourist attractions are to be found. It is going to put lots of people out of work,” Ms Myburgh said