SA tourism to be ‘badly hit’ by new visa rules

Sun International expects markets to be down by at least 60% percent when new regulations come into effect.

Hundreds of beachgoers enjoy a perfect day on Muizenberg on 2 January 2015. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Hotel group Sun International says the tourism industry is expecting traffic from some markets to be down by between 60 and 70 percent when new regulations requiring biometric visas and the unabridged birth certificates of children come into effect next week.

The Home Affairs Department confirmed on Tuesday it's still planning on implementing the new regulations on Monday 1 June.

But it says South Africans will be able to travel out of the country with their children with a letter from the department proving they've applied for the unabridged birth certificate.

The hotel group's Chief Operating Officer Rob Collins said some markets are going to be badly hit next week.

"China, India and Russia in particular … I think we as an industry are probably anticipating to be 60 or 70 percent down."

He said they haven't been able to discuss this with the department.

"We've been trying repeatedly to get meetings and they're just avoiding or ignoring us."

Meanwhile, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu)'s General-Secretary Katishi Masemola is also worried about the impact of these rules on the industry his members work in.

"I believe with better dialogue and engagement a better package could be arrived at."

But he says he does understand government aims to keep criminals out.

To view the new regulations, click here.