People, Travel

New Visa Rules May Cost S. Africa $540m

New Visa Rules May Cost S. Africa $540mNew Visa Rules May Cost S. Africa $540m

South Africa’s new visa rules will cost the tourism industry $540 million in yearly revenue, the head of an industry body said on Thursday.

Pretoria has implemented regulations requiring visitors to provide biometric data when applying for visas, a problem for people in large countries like China, which only has South African consulates in Beijing and Shanghai, Reuters reported.

Further rules implemented in June require parents to carry unabridged birth certificates for their children when traveling to South Africa, a move heavily criticized by the tourism industry.

International arrivals declined 11% year-on-year for the June to August period, according to the latest figures from ForwardKeys, a travel data intelligence company that analyzes millions of booking transactions daily.

The data show a 6.8% decline for the period between September last year and May this year

David Frost, CEO of the Southern African Tourism Services Association, told local media that South Africa will lose 7.5 billion rand every year if South Africa did not scrap the visa regulations.

“These regulations have had an impact on a key economic sector and we cannot afford it,” Frost told Cape Talk Radio. “We are going backwards at a time when our country sorely needs economic growth.”

The tourism sector has grown steadily since South Africa hosted the soccer World Cup in 2010 and is now the third largest contributor to gross domestic product.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has said the new rules are necessary to curb human trafficking. President Jacob Zuma said in August the rules would be reviewed.