Posted: 28 Sep 2018 New visa laws don't go far enough - BARSA

The Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA) has noted the details provided by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba, regarding the relaxation of visa requirements to the country, which forms part of the economic stimulus and recovery plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last Friday.

As a key representative of the world’s major airlines operating in South Africa, BARSA remains concerned that the measures announced by the Minister will not result in any significant change in tourism arrivals to the country.

Our view is that the measures are not adequate to place the country on a decisive path towards achieving its full tourism potential, thereby stimulating economic growth and lifting our country out technical recession today

The key areas of disappointment for BARSA include, firstly, the lack of clear action to address and reverse the negative effects of the unabridged birth certificate requirements, which the airline and tourism industry has made numerous representations on.

Foreign travelling minors are still required to prove parental consent for travel. Secondly, the countries with which visa waivers are to be concluded will have little impact on South Africa’s overall tourism arrivals and receipts.

We wonder why, for example, key countries like New Zealand are not included amongst those being considered for the visa waiver at this time. The fact that e-Visa will be piloted there only in April 2019 does not help either. Once again, we have lost the possibility for additional volumes of tourists over the coming holiday season.

“South Africa has enormous potential as a tourism and an investment destination. The visa reforms being mooted need to be decisive, if they are to help our economy avert a full-blown recession.  As African and international airlines we have a vital role to play in growing tourism and business travel and would like Government to go far and beyond the current announced measures,” said June Crawford, BARSA CEO and deputy chairperson of Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

“BARSA looks forward to contributing wherever possible in order to realise President Ramaphosa’s vision for a revitalised economy and job creation.”

An influx of tourists into South Africa will have a major impact on the local economy and may even increase aviation’s contribution to our country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Aviation accounts for 3.5% of South Africa’s GDP and the sector supports 490 000 jobs.

“The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that air transport contributed R154.8 billion to South Africa’s GDP and the sector directly supported businesses such as airlines, airport operators, airport on-site enterprises (for example restaurants and retail shops), aircraft manufacturers and air navigation service providers.

“In turn, these businesses also source goods and services from various suppliers, which also employ thousands of people and pay taxes,” said Crawford.