Archive from October, 2015
Oct 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Years before SA’s tourism industry will recover

29 Oct 2015 – Tourism Update

While concessions have been made to South Africa’s stringent immigration requirements, it will take time to regain travellers’ trust.
It could take years for South Africa to recover from the damage caused by the immigration regulations, members of the trade have warned. They say that even though the government has announced it will relax the requirements, it will take time to regain travellers’ trust.
Martin Wiest, CEO of Tourvest Destination Management, says it will take at least 18 months for the tourism industry to recover, with very little the industry can do to speed up the process.
Other members of the trade also warn of a slow recovery, with Mmatšatši Ramawela, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa suggesting it could take anything from 12 months to three years and Lee-Anne Bac, Director of Grant Thornton Johannesburg, warning it could take years. Bac says South Africa’s tourism has always been on a growth path, but for the first time in 20 years the country saw a continued decline in tourism numbers. “We are expecting that at the end of this year we will be 500 000 tourists behind due to the visa regulations,” she says.
The key to recovery will be clear communication and collaborative marketing. We need to tell the world that we are fixing our issues and are back in business, says David Frost, CEO of SATSA. He says it will take time for the damage to be repaired but that this can be done through joint initiative between the private and public tourism sectors in South Africa.
Bill Harrop, Owner of Bill Harrop’s original Balloon Safaris, says the industry must work together in a unified manner and invest a larger than usual amount of time and money to enable a clear, simple, unambiguous, well executed response. The quicker this is done, the better chance of reversing the damage sustained in the least possible time. “We cannot change the past. Let us focus on the goal and commit to working together for the future.”
According to Ramawela, it’s great news that the concessions were made one week before the start of WTM. “South Africa is going to WTM with a positive story this year. But, we’ll have to go cap in hand to our partners to say that we’re back in business. We’ll need to ask them to put us back into their brochures, but we need to be aware that other destinations have taken South Africa’s place in the brochures.”
“It will be important for the tourism industry to stem the tide of the losses and then build up the trust of the travellers again. This can take some time,” says Bac, adding that broken trust takes a lot of effort to repair. The most urgent course of action, according to Bac, is to make sure the tourism industry and the Department of Home Affairs are on the same page. “We need to be clear on what the changes are and establish one set of consistent communication,” she says, adding that once that is in place, a lot of time and energy and money will need to be spent to get the right message across.
Michael Tollman, CEO of Cullinan Holdings, agrees that it is important that the South African tourism industry communicates clearly with the world exactly which changes will be implemented and when. Only with clear communication will the industry be able to change the dynamics in the markets that have been affected by the regulations.
According to Tollman, tourism in South Africa was severely affected this year by the Ebola crisis as well as by the visa regulations. “We are now past Ebola and hopefully past visa issues. All depends now on how efficiently we as a tourism industry can communicate with the world and turn around any negative sentiment.”
Ramawela agrees and says it is imperative that the DHA and the tourism industry quickly get together and bring clarity. She explains that although the government has given clear deadlines on most things, there is still some confusion. Firstly, she says, we need clarity as to what ‘strongly advised’ means and which documents will be accepted from travellers from visa-exempt countries. Secondly, more clarity is required around the criteria for the accredited tour companies.
The road to recovery can only start once the changes are effective, says Linda Pampallis, CEO of Thompsons Africa. She says the Department of Home Affairs has told the tourism industry that they will issue an advisory as to when the changes to the regulations will take effect. Until that time, things will continue as before. “We had a blue sky moment, but the gates aren’t open yet. We will need to bide our time until the changes are effective,” she says.
Once the changes are effective, it will be up to the tourism industry to convince affected markets to put South Africa back in their marketing campaigns, says Linda. She adds that a joint effort from the entire industry will be required to talk up South Africa.

Oct 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

India discusses work permits,transit visa issues with Namibia

India discusses work permits,transit visa issues with Namibia
28 Oct, 2015- India Times

NEW DELHI: India took up two key issues pertaining to mine-related work permits and South African transit visa in its talks with Namibia which will help forging stronger business ties with the African nation in the mining sector.

The issues were taken up at a meeting between Namibia’s Minister for Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze and Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar yesterday, an official statement said today.

Kandjoze is in India to attend the Indo Africa Forum Summit 2015, it added.

The statement quoted Tomar as saying that there are several Indian companies that want to invest in Namibia in the area of minerals.

“However, two issues are hindering the process, namely difficulties in obtaining work permits and the requirement of South African transit visa,” the statement said.

Besides, Tomar urged Kandjoze to complete ratification formalities to operationalise the agreement on Cooperation in peaceful purposes of nuclear energy.

Kandjoze said the issues raised by Tomar are bottlenecks in increasing investment in Namibia and their government is taking all possible steps to remove these hurdles.

He also explained how Namibia intends to encourage sustainable mining and sought cooperation from India in research and development (R&D) and technology development.

India and Namibia had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2009 for cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources. A Joint Working Group was also constituted to take things forward.

“Both the Ministers were in agreement that the MOU implementation needs to be expedited and the next meeting of Joint Working Group has to be held at the earliest,” the statement said.

Oct 30, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Relaxation of visa rules and government`s plan of action

In response to the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee
established by the President in August 2015 to consider factors
relating to the implementation of the Immigration Amendment Acts (2007
and 2011) and Immigration Regulations, 2014, Cabinet has decided to
keep the existing legislation in place, whilst amending certain
procedures to facilitate implementation thereof.

Visa rules, such as the requirement for travellers to apply for visas
in person, will be relaxed in countries where there is no South
African mission, to allow for postal application. Biometric details,
such as fingerprints and photographs, will then be gathered on arrival
at ports of entry. Measures will also be put in place to ease the
process of application for tourist visas in countries where the sparse
location of offices may pose an impediment to in-person
applications.

For visa-exempt countries, the requirement of an unabridged birth
certificate and parental consent affidavits will likely be lifted, but
the Department of Home Affairs has already indicated that a strong
advisory will be issued encouraging travellers to carry proof of
relationship and consent from the absent parent(s) or guardian(s), as
the department will naturally retain discretion to ask for this on
arrival, particularly in suspicious circumstances.

Child-travel requirements for outbound travel will remain. For
non-visa exempt children, original birth certificates and parental
consent will still need to be submitted during the visa application
process.

Requirements regarding unaccompanied minors, such as the need to
produce copies of the identity document or valid passport and visa or
permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive an
unaccompanied minor, will remain. Parental consent affidavits will
have longer validity of six months.

In order to implement Cabinet decisions on this matter, the Department
of Home Affairs has been mandated to do the following:

In the next three months:
• implement the capturing of biometrics at ports of entry, starting
with a pilot project at OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka
International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.

• investigate the possibility of introducing an Accredited Tourism
Company Programme for countries like China, India and Russia.

• consider the issuance of a long-term Multiple Entry Visa for a
period exceeding three months and up to three years for frequent
travellers (for business meetings), business people and
academics.

This visa is not expected to be issued to first
time travellers to South Africa.

• school principals will be allowed to issue letters confirming
permission for children to travel abroad on school tours.

• extend the validity of the parental consent affidavit to six
months.

Within 12 months:
• mandate additional visa facilitation centres, including in Zimbabwe,
the United Arab Emirates and Botswana.

• consider visa waivers for India, China, Russia and other countries
(presumably countries from which tourism numbers are anticipated to be
high).

• consider visas on arrival for persons who hold valid visas in their
passports for the United Kingdom, the United States of America and
Canada, and other countries that apply stringent protocols in their
visa issuance processes.

• consider granting a certain category of frequent travellers
(business and academic) from Africa a 10-year Multiple Entry Visitor`s
Visa.

• open two Business Visa Facilitation Centres in Durban and Port
Elizabeth, in addition to the existing centre in Sandton,
Johannesburg.

• print the details of parents in South African passports, so that the
birth certificate requirement will fall away.

In the long term (one year and beyond):
• install systems for pre-flight checks at international
airports.

• upgrade Advance Passenger Processing systems and implement Passenger
Name Records, to enhance risk assessment.

• finalise automation of the visa and permitting system.

Oct 29, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

UK surge leads South Africa`s tourism growth

Tourist arrivals from the UK are showing positive growth for the first
time in months.

Tourist arrivals from the UK were up 17% year on year for the month of
July, while year to date, arrivals are now showing positive growth for
the first time in months. As of the end of July, after 7 months SA has
seen 227 252 tourist arrivals from the UK, compared with 226 223 for
the same period last year. That positive result stems from the surge
in July when 25 120 visitors last year grew to 29 486 this July.

This is according to the latest arrival stats published this week by
Statistics South Africa. July was also the first month that overseas
arrivals and tourist arrivals showed growth, with month-on-month
growth of 2% and 1% respectively. Year to date, overseas arrivals are
still down 9%.

The UK is South Africa`s largest source market, with 227 252 tourists
arriving from the UK this year to date, compared with 166 759 from the
US and 128 346 from Germany, South Africa`s second and third biggest
markets. The market is also more than double the size of the entire
Asian market, which has seen 133 519 arrivals to SA as of the end of
July.

Tourism arrivals to South Africa took a knock last year. The decline
has been attributed to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa as well as
new immigration regulations, particularly the requirement that people
apply in-person for visas, which took effect last year, and the
requirement that minors travel with an unabridged birth certificate,
or the equivalent thereof, which took effect in June this year.

The British currency today buys 18 % more Rands than at the beginning
of July last year. How much higher the growth would have been without
the new regulations and Ebola is he question economists are asking.

The UK market was unaffected by the visa requirement and has also
proved more resilient than other markets following the outbreak of Ebola.

Oct 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA tourism could take a while to recover from visa regulations’

EWA News – 27 Ocotober 2015
JOHANNESBURG – As the Department of Home Affairs prepares to relax the conditions of its new visa regulations, it’s being predicted that South Africa’s tourism industry could take a while to recover.
People travelling into South Africa will no longer be required to apply for their visas in person.
The tourism department announced on Friday that people travelling into South Africa will no longer be required to apply in person for their visas.
The requirement of an unabridged birth certificate for children coming into the country has also been lifted.
Lee-Anne Bac of Grant Thornton advisory services says the impact of the strict laws on the tourism industry has been greater than anticipated.
“It’s going to take a lot on time, energy and money to restore our reputation; to get the communication out there out there about the changed regulations and to convince those who’ve lost faith in us that they should actually have faith in us again.”
CHANGES
WITHIN 3 MONTHS:
– Implement the capturing of biometrics at ports of entry starting with a pilot at OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town airports.

– Look at introducing an accredited tourism company programme for countries like China, India and Russia.

– Consider a long-term multiple entry visa for a period exceeding three months and up to three years for frequent travellers (for business meetings), business people and academics.

– Principals will issue letters confirming permission for children to travel on school tours.

– Extend the validity of the parental consent affidavit to six months.
WITHIN A YEAR:
– Add visa facilitation centres, including in Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates and Botswana.

– Consider a visa-waiver for India, China, Russia and other countries.

– Look at issuing visas on arrival for persons travelling to SA having in their passports valid visas for the UK, USA and Canada or any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their countries, to ease travel for tourists.

– Consider granting a certain category of frequent travellers (business and academics) from Africa a 10 year multiple entry visitor’s visa.

– Open two business visa facilitation centres in Durban and Port Elizabeth, in addition to the centre recently opened in Sandton.

– Print parents’ details in their passports so that they do not have to carry birth certificates.
LONG TERM & BEYOND:

– Install systems for pre-flight checks at international airports.

– Upgrade advance passenger processing systems and implement passenger name record, to enhance risk assessment.

– Finalise automation of the visa and permitting system.

Oct 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

South Africa To Cancel Punitive Visa Rules That Have Hurt Tourism

October 24, 2015, Business Day

The Cabinet has decided to adopt measures to alleviate the unintended consequences of the controversial visa regulations which both Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba believe will address the dual challenges of SA’s security and the negative effect of the regime on tourism.
The concessions are aimed at facilitating the practical implementation of the regulations rather than their abolition, which opponents have lobbied for.
Mr Hanekom conceded at a post-Cabinet media briefing on Friday that the visa regulations had had a dampening effect on tourism, which has been identified as a key contributor to job creation in the National Development Plan (NDP). The biggest decline was from China.
The outcry over the regulations led to the creation of an inter-ministerial committee under Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate the effect of the regulations, which require biometric identification of prospective travelers and unabridged birth certificates for the children accompanying them. Cabinet has endorsed these recommendations, which adjust the way the regulations will be implemented.
Most importantly, government plans to accredit travel agents in countries requiring visas, including China, India and Russia. These accredited travel agents will be able to take the visa applications to South African missions eliminating the need for prospective travelers to travel far distances to present themselves in person, which has acted as a deterrent to visitors. This programme could be extended to other countries that require visas.
Mr Gigaba explained that this system would mean that instead of the Department of Home Affairs managing the visa application process, the accredited travel companies would do so.

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