That’s the opinion of tourism experts who have studied draft amendments to immigration regulations published by the Department of Home Affairs earlier this month. The amendments were made after the tourism industry called for the scrapping of the requirement for children under the age of 18 to travel with an unabridged birth certificate.
The draft amendment now says where a parent or parents, from a visa-exempt country, who is or are travelling with a child, such parent or parents “may be required by an immigration officer to produce the child’s unabridged birth certificate upon admission into or departure from the Republic…”
It also states that “an immigration official may refuse a child admission or departure from South Africa if they do not produce the certificate on request”.
This – the tourism industry is saying is helping them at all as tourism numbers have continued to fall since these regulations – supposedly to kerb child trafficking – has been put in place.
ToursimUpdate.co.ca quotes David Frost, Satsa CEO, as saying he is exasperated with the draft amendments. “Once again Home Affairs treats the tourism sector with utter contempt,” he said. “We have exhausted all possible means of reasoned dialogue and persuasion.” According to Frost, one last resort for the industry may be to consider a legal challenge. However, he stresses that this would be a last resort.
During South Africa’s peak season, The Independent newspaper in the UK reported that between 10 and 20 families per day were being denied boarding to South Africa at Heathrow. The requirement has cost South Africa billions in lost tourism revenue, according to a report by Grant Thornton.
Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (Barsa) CEO, June Crawford, said her organisation would continue to advise its members to ensure that travellers under the age of 18 travelled with an unabridged birth certificate. She says that under the draft amendments, there was the possibility of an immigration official denying entry to a minor who failed to produce the unabridged birth certificate. Airlines would then have to carry the costs of repatriation.