Home Affairs sticks to its guns on new visa laws

Home Affairs says there's no concrete evidence proving tourism figures dropped because of the new visa laws.

Muizenberg Beach. Picture: Cape Town Tourism.

CAPE TOWN - The Home Affairs Department maintains there is no concrete evidence of a link between a drop in tourism figures and tighter visa regulations.

The Western Cape government's investment arm, Wesgro, on Monday led a workshop where the contentious new regulations were unpacked.

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said the workshop is an example of how different spheres of government can collaborate, which he says is encouraging.

The tourism sector used the opportunity to complain about dwindling tourism figures they come as a result of the new visa regulations.

It's a claim Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan disputed.

"There is no empirical evidence that suggests that it is because of the regulations that numbers from China for example, have dwindled."

Chohan agreed with the tour operators claim that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa affected tourism to South Africa.

"Actually Ebola is a huge, huge persuader from travelling anywhere close to Africa."

She said it's concerning the regulations are causing an uproar.

Chohan says the department is willing, wherever it can, to help the public interpret the new rules.

Chohan said her ministry understands tourism contributes significantly to the GDP but generally laws have to be beefed up.

The minister said the department will take the workshop to other provinces.

The department said new visa and immigration regulations are in the best interests of the country's security.