The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (“TBCSA”) welcomes the positive response it has received from government, to its request for continued dialogue on issues relating to the ‘new’ immigration regulations.
The Council is optimistic that lasting solutions will be found to address the challenges that business is experiencing on a day to day basis as a result of the implementation of these regulations.
The specific challenges are:
1. Delays and congestion, particularly at OR Tambo International Airport, as a result of the implementation of the biometric data system;
2. The provision of visas for students coming into the country for purposes of foreign language training;
3. The requirement for accommodation establishments to keep record of their guests’ identity documents (IDs);
4. The requirement for Unabridged Birth Certificates (UBCs) for visitors coming from visa-exempt countries.
Outlining the actions that the TBCSA has undertaken to engage relevant stakeholders, TBCSA chief executive officer, Mmatšatši Ramawela said after a recent meeting with senior officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), her office sent a follow-up request to meet with Director-General Mkuseli Apleni to specifically discuss the urgent matter of delays and congestion at the OR Tambo International Airport. “We are pleased to note that our request to meet with Mr Apleni has been acceded to and that his office is working to find a suitable date for our engagement.”
Ms Ramawela added that the TBCSA has also received positive feedback from the office of the Deputy President. “Parallel to our correspondence to DHA, we also wrote to the Deputy President in his capacity as Convenor of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Immigrations. Our aim was to update him on recent developments and to seek the IMC’s intervention to our challenges. Similarly, we have received a swift response and work is in motion to arrange a face-to-face meeting with him.”
Other actions undertaken by the TBCSA to address the current impasse on the regulations includes representations to the Immigrations Advisory Board (IAB), engaging the broader business community through BUSA structures and consolidating industry inputs in response to a government gazette on the Draft First Amendment of the Immigration Regulations.
Ramawela, gives the assurance that the TBCSA is doing all it can to ensure that these issues are resolved. She says the Council is not insensitive to business’ eagerness to see a quick resolution but that the process needed to be handled responsibly.
The Council distances itself from all talk of legal action to force government to scrap the requirement for the submission of unabridged birth certificates for minors travelling into and out of the country.
“Our overall objective is to come up with lasting solutions that will provide certainty and will restore trade confidence in destination South Africa. We view government as a key partner and role-player in this process and firmly believe that they are equally committed to the process of robust and constructive dialogue as we are”, concludes Ramawela.