Tourism Minister and Zuma minion Derek Hanekom announced the lifting of the requirements indeed one of his priorities but that there “remained intense discussions” about the thorny issue with the Department of Home Affairs.
Hanekom told TourismUpdate.co.za that “unlike the issues we had with the in person visa applications, sorting out of the UBC requires a regulation amendment. We are in discussion to find an appropriate amendment that will give effect to Cabinet’s decision to lift the requirements… This process is a joint activity between tourism and home affairs at present and is getting attention.”
The minister could not and did not want to give any deadlines for fixing the problem. “It is a Cabinet decision and it must happen,” he said.
He advised travellers to continue travelling with UBCs saying it was uncertain at how long changing the regulation would take.
Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) CEO David Frost said statistics received from South African Airways (SAA) estimated an average of 40 people a day were being turned away from traveling to South Africa because of continued confusion surrounding the UBC requirements.
Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance shadow minister for tourism, James Vos, said the the impact of the new visa and UBC requirements was ongoing and devastating. “More must be done to hold cross-cutting Ministries to account. We cannot have a situation, such as that which occurred whereby Home Affairs issues visa regulations without considering the tourism impact.”
Tourism to South Africa in 2015 saw an overall decline of 6,8% which is largely being contributed to the impact of the visa regulations and UBC requirements. Meanwhile worldwide tourism was on the increase.