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'New visa rules have hurt ticket sales to SA'

The South African Tourism Services Association describes the situation as 'cataclysmic'.

FILE: A sample of an unabridged South African birth certificate. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) says new data from the International Air Travel Association shows ticket sales to South Africa were down by 20 percent year on the year in May and are down 32 percent year on the year for June.

It's also predicted that ticket sales for July will be 28 percent down.

The association says this is entirely because of the impact of new regulations that require people travelling to South Africa to have biometric visas and to carry the unabridged birth certificates of children travelling with them.

The association's CEO David Frost said, "It's cataclysmic, it's actually frightening. Key markets like the US are down 36 percent, and Asia is down around the mid-40s. We don't need any more evidence."

On Tuesday, Western Cape Economic Development MEC Alan Winde said it had become evident not all South African diplomatic officials stationed abroad understood the new visa regulations.

Provincial officials said the new policy has derailed an Indian tour group's plans to travel to the country after a child in the group wasn't granted a visa because of confusion around the unabridged birth certificate requirement.

This is despite the fact that both parents' details appear on an Indian passport.