Countries in tourism crisis: Should SA be on your bucket list?

2015-07-28 14:59
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Cape Town – Deciding where to go on holiday is often influenced by ease of accessibility, value for money and knowing that you’re going to have a good time without having to worry about your safety.

For a number of countries, including South Africa, tourism is ingrained in the livelihood of many people as it makes up a key economic lifeline, adding vital job creation.

Specifically in South Africa, the overhaul of visa issues have been labelled as a tourism barrier to entry – with the new unabridged birth certificate seen as especially onerous in its roll-out and application.

David Frost, Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism services Association (SATSA) and Travel blogger Natalie Roos joined News24 Live’s Jennifer Senasie in studio to discuss these effects and perceptions - both on a local and international level.

Biometric visa requirement

Frost is also especially critical of the roll-out process, saying that no proper assessment was done before or after the visa rules were implementated - despite a delay of the initial Unabridged birth certificate requirement in June 2014.

"The best indication of current data we have is the IATA all-ticketing into South Africa for June 2015, which shows that ticketing revenue is down 26%,"said Frost.

"We've seen this before in other countries and it's always as a result of an outside shock such as an ash cloud or terror attack. Commentators have said they've never before seen a country do this to itself." 

Frost believes this decline is as a direct result of the new visa requirements for South Africa and questions how the necessary machines required to capture the biometric data cannot be in place despite the rule being implemented in 2014.

READ: e-visa system could solve visa crisis

Unabridged birth certificates

Frost said the stats presented in parliament, which alleges that 30 000 children have been child trafficked in South Africa annually is an "absolutely bogus figure and the correct figure is closer to 23 children over the last three years".

According to Frost, Home Affairs has "conflated the child trafficking figures either deliberately or by incompetence with one parent taking a child within a relationship (without the consent of the other parent) being seen as child trafficking, when it is not".

No Greek tragedy

Roos recently visited Greece – read about her foodie adventure here - and said she feels South Africans have  lot in common with what Greece is experiencing right now.

"A lack of trust in the government, feelings of uncertainty about the future of our country and economy, a burning need for tourists to visit our country in order to keep it afloat and of course, friendly people. Because of this, I believe we should stand with the people of Greece and support them as much as we can.”

When asked if SATSA believes the laws should be overturned, Frost says the body continues to apply pressure but what they're hoping for is to drum up support, appealing to Cabinet to call Home Affairs Minister Malusis Gigaba to book since the rules have been "perpetrated for no good reason, without proper consultation going against everything we stand for as a democratic county."

Frost warns the damage is clear and eventually people are going to start going elsewhere if nothing is done going forward. 

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