South Africa’s frustrated tour operators cheered when President Jacob Zuma recently admitted his concern about the “unintended consequences” of new visa rules for travelers.
The visa rules, which became effective in June, require minors to carry unabridged birth certificates when entering or leaving South Africa — an unusual requirement that has had unintended consequences for South African tourism.
Usually a passport will do. The rules were made to prevent child-trafficking, but they are discouraging family holidays. If children travel with only one parent, the written consent of the other parent is required.
Under separate rules, visitors from countries requiring visas, including China, must apply in person at a South African mission in their home country so that biometric data may be taken, rather than on arrival — the easier option offered in many other countries. This forces tourists from China to make a long and costly trip to Beijing, Shanghai, or two other visa offices more recently opened.
He announced a ministerial committee under Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, dubbed “Mr Fix-It,” to try to solve the mess. But it is unclear how soon the changes may be made or how much damage will have been done by then.
The unintended consequences come at a bad time for South Africa. The economy shrank by an unexpected 1.3 percent (annualised) in the second quarter. Unemployment is already hovering around 35 percent.
“This is more than just an ‘unintended consequence,’” said Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. It is, he says, “an economic catastrophe.”
Read more at TheEconomist.
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