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‘Visa regulations the biggest threat to WC economic growth’

The regulations are expected to cost the Western Cape economy R384 million in the first quarter of this year.

FILE: The new regulations, which affect South African visa applications and travelling with children, came into effect in June. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.

CAPE TOWN - The provincial government warns South Africa's new visa regulations are the biggest threat to economic growth in the Western Cape.

Figures released on Monday indicate the province's annual GDP growth is slightly higher than the national average.

But the visa regulations are expected to cost the Western Cape economy R384 million in the first quarter of this year.

The department's Tammy Evans said, "We have seen better than average GDP growth when compared to national. Ours stands at 3,4 compared to 2,9 of national so we feel that our economy is doing well."

In June, Home Affairs addressed industry concerns related to the introduction of new international travel regulations.

Investment agency Wesgro facilitated a workshop between the department and the private sector to discuss the matter.

The new regulations, which affect South African visa applications and travelling with children, came into effect in June.

About 250 representatives, including some from the film and tourism industries sat through a Home Affairs presentation explaining the legislation.

The matter of the unabridged birth certificates for travelling children was a hot topic.

Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan said South African society needed to decide whether it cared about children's safety or if it was driven by money.

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said he acknowledged the need to protect children from human trafficking, but maintained the law was not in line with international norms.

Chohan said her ministry was inundated with horrific cases of child trafficking and even if tighter controls led to a dip in tourism, it would be for a good cause.

She said the economy would not do well if security wasn't tight.