A meeting I had with industry stakeholders, including hotels and tour operators, has revealed that the number of tourists to South Africa has decreased as a direct result of the recently introduced Visa regulations.
I will write to the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, to request that an economic impact assessment be conducted for each province to reveal the full economic impact of these ill-conceived regulations on the tourism industry, which is a job-creating industry.
It is the DA’s belief that these economic impact assessments will prove these regulations are directly responsible for losses in income and job opportunities for our country; losses which we can ill-afford.
The first quarter of this year saw a 38% drop in arrivals of tourists from China, one of our country’s biggest sources of tourism, compared to the same period last year. This is a decrease of 11 663 tourists from one country alone.
It is estimated that the first two quarters of this year will see a drop of 70% in tourist arrivals.
One of the main reasons given for this decline by the stakeholders I met with are the Visa regulations that came into effect in June this year.
According to the Tourism and Business Council of South Africa, every 12 tourists coming to our country creates 1 job. That means that roughly 971 job opportunities were lost to South Africa based only on the decrease in tourists from the first quarter of this year alone.
This means that the Visa regulations have potentially killed almost 1000 job opportunities.
Just last night I received an email from an irate director of a tour operator company, specialising in school sports tours to South Africa from the United Kingdom who have 2 400 students traveling to our country in the next few months.
After 11 of their number were denied boarding a flight to South Africa last night, due to a lack of communication from the South African embassy on visa requirements which they therefore could not comply with, “they will not be considering South Africa as a destination in the future as a result of the current implementation of the Visa regulations and Immigration Act in South Africa”
It is clear that these regulations have a direct and devastating impact on tourism and the ability of our economy to create jobs.
The DA has consistently called for an e-Visa system and biometrics on arrival to facilitate easier access for tourists to South Africa. Countries that have implemented this system, such as Turkey, have seen an impressive increase in tourists since implementing an e-Visa system.
With real alternatives on the table, these unjustifiable and job killing Visa regulations must be immediately suspended and withdrawn.