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Tourism department to push for visa rules delay

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The department of tourism has confirmed that it has asked the department of home affairs for an extension on the implementation of the new visa rules that requires an unabridged birth certificate for all children travelling through, into and out of South Africa.

Spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Praveen Naidoo confirmed to Traveller24 that Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has requested an extension of the implementation date of this regulation from the department of home affairs.

According to the minister the matter needs to be addressed urgently since the costs, time and effort expected from visitors in order to meet the requirements can be seen as a barrier to entry.

Hanekom, speaking at the Local Government Tourism Conference held in Johannesburg on Monday said, We cannot sweep under the carpet the fact that SAs current visa regulations are widely seen as a significant obstacle to increasing travel to the country.”

The minister affirmed that it was the role of the Department of Tourism to identify the possible impediments to the growth of tourism, and do whatever it could to address the obstacles.

These could be perceptions of crime and measures to ensure the safety of tourists at key tourist sites or precincts. It also means trying to ensure ease of travel to South Africa from our international source markets, said Hanekom.

Hanekom said that while the department wholeheartedly supports Home Affairs in its mandate to combat human trafficking and child trafficking, he stressed that it needed to be done in a manner that minimised the potential negative impact on tourism.

Many within the tourism industry breathed a sigh of relief when the Department of Home Affairs agreed to delay the implementation of an unabridged birth certificate requirement for children travelling in SA until 1, June 2015.

The department of Home Affairs has since confirmed it is in consultation with various stakeholders on how best to implement South Africas new visa rules, which include the need for visitors to apply in person for visas in order to submit biometric data  but as yet it has not responded to requested for details of the process, expected outcome dates or who the members of the panel are that are being consulted. NEWS24

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