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 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.

Oct 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Toughened German asylum law comes into effect early

2015-10-24 – News24
Berlin/Brussels – Toughened rules governing asylum requests to stay in Germany came into effect on Saturday, a week earlier than planned.
Under the rules, asylum seekers will be required to spend longer in reception centres and receive allowances in kind rather than cash, while people arriving from Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania will face quicker repatriation because their origin countries have been deemed safe.
The measures were initially expected to go into effect November 1. But German lawmakers rushed the new rules through parliament because a wave of hundreds of thousands of migrants did not seem to be letting up.
Estimates of asylum requests expected vary between 800 000 and 1.5 million for Germany this year, up from just more than 200,000 in 2014.
Starting now, immigration officers will not announce when they intend to repatriate a failed applicant to prevent them from absconding.
The law also hopes to speed up the procedure for applicants who are likely to be successful and offer them integration courses even before a final decision has been made regarding their status.
There are deep divisions within the centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partner over the setting up of so-called “transit zones” on the country’s borders in order to send back those with no hope of asylum more quickly.
While Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who belongs to the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said on Friday that there was wide agreement between the coalition partners, many SPD politicians have voiced grave concerns about the plan.
“[The transit zones] amount to mass prisons. With the SPD there will never be such a thing,” SPD deputy chairman Ralf Stegner told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper on Saturday.
The day before, SPD secretary general Yasmin Fahimi told dpa her party would not accept transit zones, but would accept official government “registration offices for arriving asylum seekers” near the border to decide quickly on obviously hopeless cases.
These could be set up in existing buildings, she said.
During a visit to a 5 000-capacity refugee temporary reception centre in a former air force base in the Bavarian town of Erding on Saturday, de Maiziere rejected the idea that the facilities would be prisons.
“There will be no deprivations of freedom,” he said, stressing the centres would not look like prisons. He defended the new asylum rules, saying they would facilitate quicker integration, language courses and job prospects for refugees who have a right to stay.
He said that barriers to the faster deportation of migrants with no right to remain had also been removed.
Human rights organisations, opposition politicians, lawyers and migration experts have criticized the new rules.
On Sunday, an emergency meeting convened by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker plans to bring together Germany with nine other EU countries to discuss the crisis.
It is believed they will mull the creation of a new border-control mission at the Greek frontier with Albania and Macedonia, according to a draft statement prepared for the talks in Brussels.
The congestion has led to bottlenecks and tensions among Balkan countries, with migrants left out in the mud, rain and cold.

Oct 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Tourism body welcomes changes in immigration regulations

RDM News Wire | 24 October, 2015
Concessions recommended by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Immigrations led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and approved by Cabinet this week are a step in the right direction‚ says the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).
TBCSA was among the stakeholders who participated in a closed briefing session on Friday‚ where the details of the Immigrations IMC’s approved recommendations were outlined‚ prior to the public announcement.
Among the recommendations is the adoption of a phased-in approach‚ which will see a number of specific actions being prioritised in the immediate term (1-3 months)‚ short-term (3-12 months) and long-term (12 months and beyond).
“We appreciate the work done by the Cabinet Immigrations IMC. Following today’s GCIS stakeholder briefing‚ our own Board sub-committee on Immigrations met to deliberate on the TBCSA response‚” TBCSA CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela said on Friday evening.
“Our priority is to address the uncertainty that is currently in the market around the travel requirements for destination South Africa – whether one is travelling for leisure or business – and to restore tourist confidence in our destination. Thus‚ we wish to take time to study the finer details of the Cabinet approved recommendations before we make further pronouncements on this matter.
“We do not want to rush into making any statements on the specifics without first reviewing how far the concessions go to address these two concerns or getting clarity on the nuances that may be open to interpretation. Where there are gaps‚ we hope to positively address them through the Tourism Stakeholder Forum that we have recommended for establishment‚” Ramawela said.
Ramawela emphasised the need for the immediate establishment of the Tourism Stakeholder Forum. It is envisaged that the forum‚ will be led by the directors-general of the departments of Tourism and Home Affairs and that it will play a critical role in facilitating discussions and collaboration with the Home Affairs Department‚ and the implementation of key actions within the next three months to 12 months.
‘Overall‚ as the organisation representing the VOICE of organised business in the travel and tourism sector‚ we view today’s announcement as a step in the right direction and are pleased that the lines of communication with the Department of Home Affairs are open for further engagement and collaboration‚” Ramawela added.

Oct 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA to relax visa rules after tourism industry suffers

Reuters – 25 October 2015
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa will make its new visa rules easier for visitors with children and those from India, China and Russia, after tourism numbers dropped this year, the government said on Friday.

Industry leaders have said the new rules are costing around $540 million a year in lost revenue by making it more complicated for foreigners, drawn by natural attractions such as the Kruger National Park, Table Mountain and the Sterkfontein Caves, to visit.

South Africa’s cabinet accepted recommendations from a committee appointed by President Jacob Zuma in August to look at the rules’ impact, the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement.

A rule requiring a parent to carry a child’s unabridged birth certificate when visiting South Africa will be relaxed to allow the original or a certified copy to be shown just at the visa application stage, the department said.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said in July the rules had to be relaxed after a “worrying drop” in visitor numbers, but Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba argued at the time that they were needed to guard against child trafficking.

Visitor numbers from China dropped sharply because prospective visitors had to appear at the South African embassy or consulate in person, which could require a long trek.

The department promised to “ease the process of application, in particular for tourists,” from countries like China, India and Russia.

These could include a long-term multiple entry visa for over three months and up to three years for frequent travellers, the department said.

South Africa is considering a visa-waiver for India, China, Russia and other countries and visas on arrival for visitors who have valid visas for Britain, the United States, Canada or other countries that apply stringent checks.
In the next three 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; and
• 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; and
• Print parents’ details in their passports so that they do not have to carry birth certificates.
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 record, to enhance risk assessment; and
• Finalise automation of the visa and permitting system.
It says these measures will ensure the balance between national security and economic interests of the country, without compromising child safety.

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