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New visa rules cause ‘worrying drop’ in tourism

Minister Derek Hanekom has admitted the new regulations have had a huge impact on the industry.

Minister Derek Hanekom has admitted the new regulations have had a huge impact on the tourism industry. Picture: Calhoun Mathews/Primedia

JOHANNESBURG - Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has admitted the new visa regulations have had a huge impact on the industry, with the figures for the first quarter of this year showing a "worrying drop" in the number of visitors.

Hanekom said markets like China have shown a drop of almost 40 percent.

The new regulations came into effect two months ago as an attempt to stop child trafficking.

They require additional documents to be produced in a bid to protect children who are travelling.

But the minister said while human trafficking is a problem, the numbers being used to justify the new rules are not accurate.

"The ways we completely support the efforts of the Department of Home Affairs to combat child trafficking, to secure our country's borders, is to find a better way of doing it."

He said, "Trafficking is a problem, it [the numbers] probably was exaggerated. Some of the figures mooted were not very accurate."

Hanekom has described the drop in tourism figures this year as 'worrying'.

The minister has also confirmed that an inter-ministerial task team has been set up to investigate the full impact of the new visa regulation not only on tourism but on other industries.

LISTEN:_ Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom speaks to 702's John Robbie about the impact of the newly implemented visa regulations, which introduced on 1 June, on the Tourism industry._

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