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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) notes with concern South Africa’s new immigration measures that came into effect today, including requiring adults travelling with children to carry unabridged birth certificates.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) notes with concern South Africa’s new immigration measures that came into effect today, including requiring adults travelling with children to carry unabridged birth certificates.

As the body representing 84% of global air traffic, IATA and its member airlines want to be part of a solution that helps reduce instances of the terrible crime of child trafficking. But it is in everyone’s interests that measures used to stop the illegal movement of people, do not have unintended side-effects that cause greater harm than good.

From a commercial and economic perspective, the industry is concerned that the harsh and onerous requirements South Africa has prescribed for travellers will negatively impact on the sustainability of air services, travel, trade and tourism to, from and via South Africa.  That would undermine the country’s economy – which is already vulnerable and fragile – with serious repercussions that would be felt across the entire sub-Sahara region.

IATA fully supports South Africa in its laudable campaign to combat child trafficking, but airports are not the only points of entry and exit to a country. It is also worth noting that the South African Police Services official crime statistics for the period March 2004 – March 2014 do not mention a single reported case of child trafficking.

Equally worrying for the industry is the lack of information flowing from the departments of Home Affairs and International Cooperation on the questions surrounding their readiness and ability to apply the new regulations, both with respect to accepting and processing visa applications under the new regulations and to the effective enforcement of the new measures.

In last September’s meeting with the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs, he agreed to stop the clock on the implementation until 01 June 2015 and to appoint a joint Government-Industry task group to research international best practices and make recommendations on the new regulations and their implementation.  It’s task was also to include the preparation of a communications strategy and toolkit to support the roll-out of the new systems and processes and ensure that accurate and consistent information was conveyed to potential travellers and all other stakeholders.

For reasons unknown to us, and despite several attempts to maintain an open channel with the Minister’s office, this task group was never appointed and none of the tasks undertaken.

Moreover, earlier this year South Africa hosted a meeting of AU Transport ministers where they committed to implementing a single common market for African airlines.  In their current form, South Africa’s new immigration regulations stand as an impediment to this and represent a potentially harmful example of a lack of joined-up and coordinated policy making.

Due to these concerns, IATA is asking the South African Government to act in the best interests of the country and review, modify, and if necessary, rescind, the new measures if they do not have the desired effect and if they act as a handbrake on travel, tourism and economic growth, not just for South Africa – which is experiencing its weakest GDP performance in decades – but for the entire region.

 

– IATA –

 

For more information, please contact:

Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967
Email: corpcomms@iata.org

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