The Democratic Alliance says that confusion surrounding visa regulations have meant far fewer tourists entering the country at a cost of thousands of potential jobs.
“In the Portfolio Committee on Tourism today, it became clear that there have been 600,000 fewer tourists since the introduction of visa regulations,” said DA shadow minister of tourism, James Vos.
“The regulations have clearly made it harder for people to come to South Africa,” he said.
Citing industry experts, the DA said that one job is created for every 12 tourist arrivals in the country. “In a country with a 36% unemployment rate, this potential to create jobs must not be jeopardized,” it said.
The political party said that there is a clear pattern of declining tourists to our country since the announcement of the introduction of visa regulations in 2013:
- 2013 – 9.6 million tourist arrivals
- 2014 – 9.5 million tourist arrivals
- 2015 – 8.9 million tourist arrivals
- 2016 – 9.0 million tourist arrivals
“These figures prove a decline of 600,000 visitors which equates to a 6.6% decline, revealing the negative effects of the ill-conceived visa regulations
A visa regulation introduced in 2015 blocking travellers who do not carry an unabridged birth certificate for their children, prevented more than 13,000 tourists from entering the country between June 2015 and July 2016.
According to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, the average tourist spends around R13,000 per day in South Africa, meaning that potential revenue of around R7.51 billion was lost because of that specific regulation, which government said it would amend.
“Every day people are turned away from travelling to South Africa because of continued confusion surrounding the requirement for unabridged birth certificates for minors travelling to the country,” Vos said.
The DA argued that electronic visas will also drastically cut the turnaround time for the issuing of travel documentation, “and are in fact more secure than existing permits”.
“The failure to implement electronic visas will ultimately cost the South African tourism sector by making it more difficult to attract visitors to South Africa.
“In failing to do so, government, during its announcement of the concessions, failed to seize an opportunity to act in the best interest of South African tourism,” Vos said.