Airlines warn SA of potential tourism disaster
Twenty airlines have written an open letter to government warning about the impact of new visa requirements.
JOHANNESBURG - Twenty international airlines from countries like Rwanda, the United Kingdom, China and Mauritius have now written an open letter to government warning that new visa requirements are going to be a public relations and tourism disaster for the country.
The new requirements make it compulsory for children travelling to South Africa to have their unabridged birth certificates with them.
The airlines say the rule appears to be based on incorrect information and that the Department of Home Affairs is trying to solve the right problems in the wrong way.
Virgin Atlantic's Simon Newton-Smith says the policy means that international passports are rendered useless for any person under 18.
"The requirements for under eighteens to travel with an unabridged birth certificate is such a unique requirement and is set to be a PR and tourism disaster for South Africa."
But Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says the new requirements are completely reasonable.
"We just want proof of the birth of a child as is provided in the birth country."
Gigaba says the new regulations are not too onerous and parents can use their country's equivalent of the documents while travelling.
He says they're still prepared to negotiate about most of these new rules.
"What we will not discuss is the requirement that people applying for visas to come to South Africa must do so physically at our offices."
To view the new regulations, click here.
ZIMBABWEANS' WORK VISAS TO BE EXTENDED
Gigaba says an aid scheme that allowed Zimbabweans to flee the political crisis on four-year work visas will be extended.
The minister implemented a new scheme that will see thousands of Zimbabweans living in the country applying for the special permit that will be valid for three years.
In 2009, government approved the dispensation allowing Zimbabwean holders of the special permit to work, conduct business and study in the country.
The minister says these permits will start expiring at the end of the year.
"From 1 October, we'll open centres for the applications of Zimbabweans who currently hold dispensation."