13 246 tourists denied visiting South Africa due to unabridged birth certificates

Democratic Alliance press statement by
James Vos MP
DA Shadow Minister of Tourism
13 246 tourists denied visiting South Africa due to unabridged birth certificates
As a result of the contentious unabridged birth certificate (UBC) regulation, 13 246 people were denied boarding to South Africa for the period June 2015 to July 2016, according to statistics provided by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) presented in the Portfolio Committee on Tourism meeting in parliament today.
Taking into account that a tourist to South Africa spends on average R13 000 per day, our country has lost potential revenue of R7.51 billion because of this regulation, according to TBCSA.
In committee I pointed out that these ministers must be fired for causing a loss of R7,5 billion to our economy as a result of these disastrous and ludicrous visa regulations.
This once again reinforces the DA’s call to the Department of Tourism to implement e-visas, which will streamline tourist facilitation, reduce turnaround time and make visa applications safer and more reliable.
Given that the festive season is around the corner, which brings thousands of tourists to our country, the DA will write to the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, to ask what short term measures he has in place to counter this problem.
As if the UBCs were not hindering South African tourism enough, TBCSA furthermore revealed the following worrying statistics caused by a lack for properly trained migration officers at OR Thambo for the period 1-18 October 2016:
  • Visitors stand in line at immigration at peak times for between 90 minutes to 4 hours;
  • 800 passengers have missed connecting flights due to the delays;
  • 24 domestic and 9 international flight were delayed; and
  • International Migration Services (IMS) counters are only manned at 40% on average.
Due to these missed connections, airlines have lost an estimated R1.6 million over the 18 day period. Clearly, our migration office is underequipped and understaffed, costing our tourism sector and economy millions.
The CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), Mmatšatši Ramawela, expressed her frustration in dealing with government on the handling of migration issues.
The Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, as Chairperson of the Interministerial Committee on visa regulations, has not responded to correspondence from TBCSA, and the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has offered no engagement at all.
What is perhaps most shocking is that TBCSA and Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) have offered financial assistance to the Department of Home Affairs to appoint immigration officers to assist with the processing of visa administration and the elimination of migration delays.
However, the Director General of the Department, Mkuseli Apleni, has not bothered to respond to this offer, causing our tourism sector to suffer due to a lack of political will from the Department of Home Affairs.
I will also request that the Tourism Minster intervene in facilitating the financial assistance offered by TBCSA, in doing so preparing our migration offices for the influx of tourists expected during the festive season.
According to TBCSA, the tourism industry is adding more jobs to the economy than mining, agriculture, manufacturing and trade. Yet the Deputy President and Minister of Home Affairs refuse to engage in exploiting this potential.
The DA will continue to push the Minister to act in the best interest of South Africa by ensuring that visitors our welcomed in an efficient manner.
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