Cape Town - The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) says they will continue to work to ease travel in and out of the country, despite the frustration caused specifically by the new biometric data capturing systems, as well as the continued requirements for unabridged birth certificates (UBCs) for travelling minors.
And while the TBCSA admits that SA's Department of Home Affairs has made some improvements to the regulations over the past two years, they say that the DHA has lost many an opportunity for tourism growth in the country due to new immigration regulations.
The TBCSA released a statement on Wednesday, 2 November saying, "Two years after the introduction of the new immigration regulations, business in the travel and tourism industry is unable to fully capitalise on the weak Rand and the buoyant global travel market."
The TBCSA also warned again that more tourism opportunities may be squashed by the DHA's disregard for festive season influx and the slow pace of the new biometric data capturing systems at all SA's major airports.
SEE: DHA: Biometrics to stay despite festive season spike looming
"Unfortunately," the TBCSA says, "the well-meaning concession that led to the introduction of biometric data capturing on arrival at our airports, is now being compromised by the lack of resources within the Home Affairs Department.
Last week, the DHA director-general Mkuseli Apleni said in a media briefing that no new staff will be appointed during the upcoming festive season to help ease congestion at the busy airport immigration counters.
On the contrary, Apleni announced the future roll-out of even more biometric data capturing stations - at six land-based ports of entry on SA's borders.
SEE: Biometrics on a budget: DHA plans roll-out of data capturing for land-based ports
The TBCSA fears that "with the traditional festive season fast approaching and the anticipated increase in tourist numbers, there hasn't been any confirmation on contingency measures being put in place to address this urgent challenge facing the industry".
Apart from the slow immigration processes which the DHA is not actively tending too, the stringent visa requirements for minors remain an issue for all travelling families.
The TBCSA reiterated the issue saying the "amendments made to the unabridged birth certificate requirements does not go far enough to address the concerns of the trade and that of tourists wanting to visit South Africa".
SEE: DHA streamlines birth certificates to ease minor travel
In a bid to avoid the same - and possibly worse - issues for travellers in the upcoming festive season, the TBCSA hopes that their recommendations on addressing the concerns of the industry will be taken to heart at the upcoming Captains of Industry meeting with the Ministers of Tourism and Finance, set to take place on Friday, 4 November.
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