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Travel bodies monitor impact of new visa regulations

There has been a drop in air ticket sales to South Africa since the implementation of the stricter laws.

SA birth certificate. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Travel bodies say they will continue to monitor the effects of government's new visa regulations on the country's tourism sector.

There has been a drop in air ticket sales to South Africa since the implementation of the stricter laws at the beginning of this month.

According to the regulations, children travelling in or out of the country are required to present an unabridged birth certificate or risk being turned away by airlines.

Government has said the visa changes are part of its efforts to protect children from being trafficked.

The Southern African Tourism Services Association's David Frost said a review will be compiled later this month.

"These regulations will impact on people travelling with their families. At the moment all students in Europe and North America are at school and at the end of July they will go on holiday and that's when we will see far greater impact with the regulations."

Earlier this month, government released a statement at a World Economic Forum on Africa saying South Africa is committed to an open immigration policy that enables tourists and investors to enter the country.

The Home Affairs Department said the tourism industry itself was responsible for a reported 32 percent drop in plane ticket sales to South Africa.

At the same time, those planning trips to South Africa will also have to report to South African embassies in their respective countries for the collection of biometric data.

There has been a backlash from tourism associations which claim the industry will suffer a massive knock due to the tighter regulations.

But Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said the department has a responsibility to ensure national security.