Janet Semple MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC: Economic Development
The number of foreign tourists visiting Gauteng has dropped since the introduction of South Africa’s new visa regulations.
In reply to my question regarding the impact these new regulations will have on tourism in Gauteng, MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile, indicated that the number of tourists from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations had dropped by 3009 in a period of three months.
However, these figures are only for the first quarter of the current financial year. It would not be improbable that this number will increase significantly as data from the last two quarters emerges.
In an attempt to gloss over the issue and the impact this will have on the economy, MEC Maile dodged the question and indicated that more aggressive and targeted marketing needed to be conducted by the Gauteng Tourism Agency (GTA) to bolster the number of tourists visiting the province.
What the MEC failed to grasp is that as a result of these new regulations, the tourism industry in Gauteng and throughout South Africa will slowly begin to die off.
As other sectors of the economy decline, tourism is purportedly poised to fill the gap left by them. However, as jobs are shed due to draconian visa requirements this will forever remain an unattainable ideal.
If the Gauteng Provincial Government is serious about stimulating the economy and creating real, sustainable jobs through the tourism sector, members of the Provincial Cabinet must aggressively lobby their counterparts in National Government to scrap these destructive, ill-conceived visa regulations.
Failure to do so will ensure that the thousands employed in the tourism sector will have no option but to stare down the barrel of unemployment.