June Crawford, CEO of Barsa said, to Barsa’s knowledge, none of the tourism and travel industry associations that had been working through the TBCSA with the Department of Home Affairs since the Immigration Regulations were announced last year, were invited…
Members of the travel and tourism trade were not invited to a panel discussion on Friday, where Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, sought input on how best to implement South Africa’s new immigration policy.
None of the associations that have been engaging with the department on visa regulations since new regulations were first announced last year were invited to the meeting. These include SATSA the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), the Board of Airline Representatives of SA (Barsa) and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).
TBCSA CEO, Mmatšatši Ramawela, said the meeting came as news to her on Monday morning. However, she told Tourism Update that based on feedback given to the TBCSA by the Department of Home Affairs on Monday, the panel was looking at visas from a technical perspective and it was not looking at tourist visas.
Members of the travel and tourism industry have, however, been unable to meet with the Minister of Home Affairs, since October last year, despite the Minister establishing a task team, which was supposed to look at the new regulations with a view to balance the need for security in a way that does not negatively impact tourism.
David Frost, SATSA CEO, said there had been no consultation with the travel and tourism industry, despite the fact that a task team was set up last year, specifically to look at the regulations. “There has never been a properly constituted task team meeting since October.”
Chris Zweigenthal, Chief Executive of AASA, also confirmed that no meeting of the task team had taken place since October. “The TBCSA arranged one informal meeting with the DHA in October 2014 but, to date, this task team has not been formally convened by the DHA and we have not met since then,” he said. “We are urgently awaiting the convening of the task team with all affected stakeholders as envisaged by the Minister.”
According to Frost, SATSA will be communicating directly with the Deputy President regarding the panel. SATSA will be asking for a suspension of the regulations pending the review, so that a fair and equitable review can take place.
June Crawford, CEO of Barsa said, to Barsa’s knowledge, none of the tourism and travel industry associations that had been working through the TBCSA with the Department of Home Affairs since the Immigration Regulations were announced last year, were invited. “This is despite the comprehensive research that industry has generated on the impact that these immigration regulations will have on the sector and South Africa’s economy, and our continued efforts to engage with government, both through the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Tourism,” she said.
“We are disappointed that the TBCSA has been unsuccessful in securing a meeting for the industry task team with the Department of Home Affairs and that despite the indications that a meeting would take place, a panel has been established without the tourism sector’s involvement or knowledge,” said Crawford.
“With the appointment of this panel and their alleged focus being input on how best to implement the new Immigration Act, we also see no moves on the horizon for the full review that was promised in the State of the Nation address recently,” Crawford cautioned.
Frost emphasised the view that there were better alternatives to the regulation that include the requirement that children travel with an unabridged birth certificate. Frost said he recently attended a workshop on child trafficking and exploitation hosted by the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection at ITB in Berlin. The workshop was also attended by senior representatives from Interpol.
“When I mentioned what we were doing, people looked at me with shock and horror,” said Frost. He said that it was clear from the workshop that there was a more sophisticated, multipronged international effort that goes into addressing the issue of child trafficking and exploitation.
Ramawela said the TBCSA was eagerly awaiting an announcement from the Deputy President, who would be convening the review of the visa regulations.
At the time of publication, the Department of Home Affairs had not released the names of the people on the panel, or the organisation they represent, despite having been asked for these names since Friday last week.