Minor drop in tourism numbers

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pretoria – The implementation of the Immigration Regulations has not significantly affected the numbers of people travelling into South Africa.

“The drop in tourism numbers is not as significant as people are talking about, but we still need to understand why people are not travelling,” Department of Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said.

Speaking on Wednesday during a media briefing, Apleni said the total numbers for people travelling to South Africa indicate a drop of 1.3 percent.

He briefed the media on the department’s analysis on the arrival patterns into South Africa since the implementation of the Immigration Regulations.

The new immigration legislation amendments came into effect this month. Under the new legislation, South Africans and foreign nationals travelling to and from South Africa with children under the age of 18 are required to produce Unabridged Birth Certificates.

The implementation of the new legislation is part of government’s commitment to safeguard the best interests of children and prevent child trafficking.

“These requirements, relating to travelling with children are aimed at promoting the principle that all children must have the consent of parents when travelling into or out of the Republic,” Apleni said.

The analysis shows a minor decrease in the number of people who arrived in South Africa for the period of 1 June to 22 June 2013, 2014 and 2015.

In 2013, 828 806 people arrived in South Africa, last year 853 759 people arrived in the country and this year 834 538 people arrived in the South Africa.

The arrivals for travellers younger than 18 years from 1 to 22 June 2013, 2014 and 2015 show a significant drop in the numbers of people travelling from neighbouring countries such as Lesotho.

Apleni said from 1 -17 June this year, 806 travellers younger than 18-years-old could not travel to South Africa because they did not have the proper documentation compared to 107 children who were not allowed to travel into the country last year.

Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said it was unfair and convenient for critics to accredit the decline in numbers of people travelling into the country only to the new regulations when there has been a decline in the economic impact assessment in the numbers.

“We need a more in-depth assessment of the situation right now. Unfortunately the type of assessments that are happening right now are partly opportunistic and are saying the new regulations are a complete failure,” Tshwete said.

He said in terms of making sure that children are not travelling into the country undocumented, the department is succeeding.

Apleni said the Children’s Act demands specifically the protection of children from abduction.

“Our concern has always been on promoting national security, which has a far-reaching impact on tourism as well,” he said.

Apleni said the UN World Tourism Organisation has noted that tourism can be manipulated for criminal activities.

“It is in our best interest as a democratic state to work towards reducing levels of crime even in this area if our economy is to grow and if we are to succeed in building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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