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Decline in BRICS Tourism a Cause for Visa Regulation Rethink

This based on the STATS SA tourism figures for 2014, released on Tuesday, indicating that arrivals from China dropped 24.6% from 110 035 in 2013 to 82 905 in 2014, arrivals from India dropped 8.4% from 93 583 to 85 639, and arrivals from Brazil dropped 14.6% from 45 813 to 39 082.

Decline In BRICS Tourism A Cause For Visa Regulation Rethink

Vos writes: “It is clear that the visa regulations requiring in-person applications have devastating implications for tourism in South Africa.

“Tourist arrivals from fellow BRICS countries in particular have been hit extremely hard. These are vast countries geographically. The limited number of processing centres will necessitate long and costly time and travel commitments well in advance to organise visas for South Africa. This often renders it impossible for people to get South African visas in person.

“Given the importance of China and India as sources of tourists, South Africa should be adjusting our visa and biometric visa requirements to facilitate tourism from these markets and not hinder it.

“The decrease in tourist arrivals will inevitably have enormous consequences for the tourism sector in South Africa. There is a real risk that we could lose jobs if these regulations are not changed.

“I will therefore make a submission to the Portfolio Committee that the review panel instituted by the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, should include tourism operators. The tourism industry must be involved in the review to find practical solutions and present viable alternatives to in person visa applications such as the introduction of biometrics on arrival and electronic visas.

“In countries where these systems have been implemented, they have proved to be very effective in terms of safety and turnaround times and their introduction would cost far less money than the country is currently losing from a decline in tourism numbers.
“South Africa needs to be open for business with the world to grow our tourism economy and create much needed jobs.”

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