South Africa’s tourism business index is at its
lowest level since 2011, as visitor numbers decline due to the country’s
new visa regulations.
The declining performance of the industry is
attributed to South Africa’s new visa regulations that are making it
difficult for international visitors–particularly those travelling with
minors under the age of 18–gain entry into the country.
The latest index score, which decreased by 16,3
index points from the first quarter of 2015, also hit a four-year low
since the third quarter of 2011. The tourism business index (pdf) is conducted by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).
South Africa’s tourism sector, which contributes
at least 3% of GDP annually and employs some 1.5 million people, is
performing below normal performance as the new visa regulations are
deterring international visitors from visiting the country.
Under South Africa’s new visa requirements,
anyone traveling with a minor under the age of 18–either to and from
South Africa–is required to present an unabridged birth certificate at
the port of entry in South Africa, in addition to a normal passport and
The new visa regulations, mainly geared towards countering human and child trafficking and improving border control and security,
have been place under review by South African tourism minister, Derek
Hanekom, while the South African-based BRICS think tank, has proposed less stringent regulations for international visitors from other BRICS countries.
Adding to South Africa’s tourism woes, is the new
requirement for international visitors to apply in person for a South
African visa to ensure that biometric information–obtained through
fingerprints–are reliably collected. Using biometric information for
visa application is a well-known best practice in many countries, but in
South Africa’s case, visa processing centres in foreign countries may
be few, and far from the places of residence of international visa