Associations representing the interests of inbound tourism to and outbound travel from South Africa have dubbed the Cabinet’s assertion that the new immigration regulations have had “unintended consequences” as a misnomer.
The Cabinet announced recently that an inter-ministerial task team, led by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, would be established to look at matters pertaining to the implementation of the immigration regulations with a view to striking a balance between South Africa’s economic development and its security needs.
Both the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) and Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) are encouraged that consultation is finally taking place, but remain disappointed that the review is limited to issues around implementation, and not an amendment to or an abolishment of the regulations, whose impact has had wide-reaching effects particularly on the inbound industry that has seen a 32% decline in air tickets sold to South Africa alone.
The notion of ‘unintended consequences’, believe ASATA and SATSA, is a complete misnomer. The impending impact on inbound tourism was outlined in detail in two research reports given to both the Ministries of Home Affairs and Tourism, and had the Department undertaken an economic impact assessment study, these issues would have been starkly apparent.
Says ASATA CEO Otto De Vries: “Since the regulations were announced early last year, we have had little to no engagement with or consultation from Home Affairs on the lasting impact the implementation of these immigration regulations would have on the tourism sector, which supports one in seven jobs in South Africa.”
“We will regardless work within the review process and once again provide data and documented proof to the relevant authorities on the impact that the tourism sector is seeing and is projected to see. It would appear, that we have to prove we are on our knees before government will listen to the tourism sector,” concludes David Frost, CEO SATSA