Posted: 11 Nov 2019 Asata Outraged over Discrimination of South African Travellers With Removal of Unabridged Birth Certificate Requirement for Foreign Minors

South Africa’s Travel Industry, represented by the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), has reacted with outrage following the announcement that the removal of the onerous requirement to present an Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) when travelling with minors will not be extended to South African citizens.

The Department of Home Affairs announced today that foreign minors visiting South Africa will no longer be required to present the UBC when travelling to the destination, unless these are unaccompanied. South African citizens, however, will still be required to do so when travelling across borders. This, says ASATA CEO Otto de Vries, is blatant discrimination.

“By limiting the change to foreign minors only, are we suggesting that South African children are more likely to be victims of child trafficking than their overseas counterparts? 

“The requirement to produce an Unabridged Birth Certificate, unless the child’s passport includes the details of both parents of the child and both parents are travelling with the child, is discriminatory not only against South African families, but also against those that do not meet the form of a traditional two-parent household,” says de Vries.

“Furthermore, to say that South Africa should not ‘trouble’ international tourists with the requirement to produce UBCs to combat child trafficking, when we do not extend the same courtesy to our own citizens, is ridiculous.

“In our modern South African society, there are many different types of families with single-parent families no longer a rare exception.  As it stands, both parents will be required to be present when applying for a child’s passport and when the child travels. This is not realistic.”

Although the South African government started to roll out a new child passport which includes parents’ details, this appears to be inconsistently applied and is not an adequate solution, adds de Vries.

ASATA has for several years called for a thorough consultation process with industry to develop requirements that balance the need for security with economic growth delivered through travel and tourism.

According to de Vries, the controversial requirement for travelling families has stifled outbound tourism as it is making it difficult for local families to travel internationally.

“This continued obligation for South African citizens flies in the face of Government’s own stated goals of creating jobs and stimulating the economy. As South Africa’s economy grapples with the downturn and international investment declines, now more than ever it is incumbent on local businesses, not foreign investors, to create that economic growth, higher consumer spend and higher employment,” says de Vries.

To do this, we need a supportive, enabling environment for South African companies to grow and this means that any red-tape that stifles an industry, such as the imposition of the requirement of Unabridged Birth Certificates for South African families, is an obstacle to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the economy.

The contribution that the travel industry makes to South Africa’s economy cannot be underestimated, says de Vries. This is a sector that supports thousands of jobs and contributes billions in tax revenues to the economy.

ASATA’s Market Index Report shows that total turnover from the travel sector affiliated to ASATA exceeded R39,5bn in 2017. Furthermore, this sector of the economy generates almost 9,000 direct jobs, with nearly two thirds of all employees black.

“We need to repeal the regulations and initiate discussions between public and private sector so we can try to understand the concerns of government around safety and security, while also looking at the needs of the travel and tourism sector. This is the only way we’re going to be able to build a meaningful policy from the ground up, remove the current confusion and stimulate outbound family travel.”