Tour group from India becomes first casualty of new child visa laws

By Alan Winder, Minister of Economic Opportunities:

A group of international tourists from India have become one of the first reported casualties of the new unabridged birth certificate requirement.

The unabridged birth certificate requirement for minors travelling into or out of the country came into effect today (1 June 2015).

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, received the correspondence from an India-based tour operator on Friday, who said that a group of 45 people are likely to cancel their trip because one of the children travelling in the party had not been granted a visa.

The Indian consulate has raised concern because in that country, the details of both parents are endorsed in a child’s passport. Minister Winde said this clearly renders the passport “an equivalent document” to a unabridged birth certificate.

“The tour operator stated that all its tour groups spend nine nights in the Western Cape. Research by the tourist industry indicated that the average spend per international tourist is around R5 000; hence the visa refusal may cost the Western Cape economy well over R200 000. There are more than 200 000 people employed in formal jobs in the tourism sector in the Western Cape, these jobs are now under serious threat”, Minister Winde said.

He added that the Western Cape Government’s Red Tape Reduction Unit was continuing its research into the impact of the visa regulations.

“We are examining the tourist arrivals information over a three-year period. We will analyse the data in conjunction with incidents such as the implementation of the new visa regulations in May last year, Ebola and other significant events to determine how they have impacted international travel,” said Minister Winde. “The provincial government remains committed in its fight to ensure that the country’s immigration regime does not damage the economy and cause job losses through unnecessarily onerous requirements”, said Minister Winde.

These findings will be forwarded to the office of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Minister Winde called on the National Government to provide clarity on the status of the visa regulations review.

“On Friday, Minister Jeff Radebe reiterated President Jacob Zuma’s statement that a review of the regulations would be taking place, but to date no such process has been initiated. We need clarity on whether and when this review will be going ahead,” said Minister Winde.