The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released new data showing that the air transport sector in South Africa provides immense value to the people and economy of the country supporting some 490,000 jobs including tourism-related employment and contributing $12 billion or 3.5% to the country’s GDP.
These findings are among the highlights of ‘The Importance of Air Transport to South Africa’ study conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of IATA.
“The study confirms the vital role of air transport in facilitating over $110 billion in exports, some $140 billion in foreign direct investment and around $9.2 billion in inbound leisure and business tourism for South Africa. With the country now in a recession it’s time to re-double efforts to promote South Africa as a destination for business, trade and tourism,” said Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East & Africa, who is making his first visit to Africa in his new capacity.
According to executives surveyed by the World Economic Forum for the study, South Africa’s transport infrastructure quality score places the country 1st out of 37 African countries surveyedand 48th globally
South Africa ranks 19th out of 37 African countries for visa openness
It ranks 17th out of 37 for cost competitiveness in the air transport industry, based on air ticket taxes, airport charges and VAT
Around 390,000 aircraft land and take off from one of South Africa’s main airports every year. Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport is the country’s busiest in terms of passengers with over 18.5 million travellers passing through the airport in 2014.
“Affordable, safe and reliable air transport is crucial to economic growth. It promotes skills development and is a catalyst for jobs. We urge the South African Government to remove any impediments, including unnecessary red-tape and policies that hinder air connectivity and the trade, investment, tourism and job opportunities it facilitates and stimulates,” added Albakri.
During his visit to Johannesburg, Mr. Albakri is meeting key industry stakeholders from South Africa’s government, the South African Civil Aviation Authority, Airports Company South Africa, Air Traffic Navigation Services, IATA member airlines in the country and IATA’s sub-regional sister organization, the Airlines’ Association of Southern Africa.
Canada will tighten its rules on entering the country next month, adding a layer of security that will impact Europeans and others previously allowed to visit without a travel visa.
Formerly visa-exempt foreign nationals, including those passing through on a stopover, will have to fill out an online Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in advance and pay a small administrative fee (Can$7), starting March 15.
The measure is similar to one set up by the United States in 2008, and will affect people from more than 50 countries.
Americans will be exempt. Anyone caught unaware of the new regulations can expect some leniency in the beginning, said Robert Orr, deputy minister for immigration.
He said the new rules will affect more than three million travellers per year.
After completing the online form, permission to travel to Canada will be sent by email and will remain in effect for five years.
The eTA is meant to help authorities better screen travellers for admissibility, Orr told AFP.
He noted that Canadian security and intelligence agencies already do so but “not in a systematic way”.
The United States, followed by Britain, France and China (whose citizens require a visa) are the top sources of tourists to Canada, according to government figures.